U.S. Secretary of State Johan Kerry expressed his concerns about Iran’s military support to the Shiite Lebanese Movement of Hezbollah in a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Saturday.
Kerry said most of Hezbollah’s arms come from Iran through Syria to Lebanon and that the movement – also a political party - has about 80 thousand missiles.
Hezbollah, which has long been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, has offered key support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have both criticized and denounced Hezbollah’s support to Assad’s regime after protests erupted in Syria against the embattled leader’s rule in 2011 but turned into a civil war.
From his part, Jubeir said the Gulf states are working with Washington to face Iranian interference in the region and emphasized that the region’s stability requires Tehran stopping its aggression.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf counterparts repeatedly denounced Iranian interference in their internal affairs.
Jubeir also said that Saudi Arabia does not see a “coming together” of Iran and the United States, which is well aware of Tehran’s regional “mischief.”
“No, I don’t see a coming together of the United States and Iran. Iran remains the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism,” he said.
“Overall I think the United States is very aware of the danger of Iran’s mischief and nefarious activities... I don't believe the United States is under any illusion as to what type of government Iran is,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kerry also said after talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in Saudi Arabia that he was confident Syria peace talks would proceed.
“We are confident that with good initiative in the next day or so those talks can get going and that the U.N. representative special envoy Staffan De Mistura will be convening people in an appropriate manner for the proximity talks that will be the first meeting in Geneva,” he told reporters in Riyadh.
Kerry also said there was agreement that immediately after the first round of talks the International Support Group on Syria would convene.
Kerry began a stop in Riyadh by meeting with representatives of the six nations of the GCC, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
He is also due to have talks with Riad Hijab, chair of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee, which was formed in Saudi Arabia last month, amid uncertainty about whether Syrian peace talks slated to start next week in Geneva will take place.
The Saudi-backed Syrian opposition ruled out even indirect negotiations with Damascus before preconditions are met, including a halt to Russian air strikes, contradicting Kerry's hopes for talks to start next week.
(With Reuters, AFP)