U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia should stay “on track” amid his visit in Saudi Arabia in a bid to ease tensions over Syria and Iran with America’s longstanding ally.
“Right now we have some very important things to talk about to make certain the Saudi-U.S. relationship is on track, moving forward and doing the things that we need to accomplish,” he was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Kerry first met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and will have his first meeting since becoming secretary of state in February with Saudi King Abdullah on Monday in in Riyadh.
He praised the Saudis as “really the senior player in the Arab world,” saying they had the ability “to influence a lot of the things that we also care about,” according to AFP
The Secretary of State repeated U.S. assurances that “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” he was quoted as saying by AFP at a morning meeting in the American mission in Riyadh's diplomatic quarter.
He also added: “Slowly but surely people are beginning to realize there's a better alternative to the incredible nihilism where people think that you get somewhere by blowing other people up.”
The top U.S. diplomat is on his second stop of a regional tour to reinforce ties with Arab countries. He will visit, Jordan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia expressed concerns over the United States not following through on its threat to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad with military strikes for his government’s use of chemical weapons and over the recent diplomatic rapprochement between Iran and the United States.
Earlier on Sunday in Cairo, Kerry acknowledged that while there might be differences over “tactics” in ending the Syrian conflict, the end goal for the United States and its allies was the same-a transition of power, according to AFP.
Kerry also said the United States would stick with its Middle East partners and not allow them to be attacked.
“We will be there for Saudi Arabia, for the Emirates, for Qataris, for the Jordanians, for the Egyptians and others. We will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside. We will stand with them,” he said, according to AFP.