DUBAI Nov 4 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
on Monday played down any rift with Saudi Arabia, saying
relations between the two countries were strategic and enduring
and that both agreed negotiations were the only way to stop
Syria's civil war.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign
Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh after talks with King
Abdullah, he also said Washington would not let Iran acquire
The Syrian crisis could only end with "a negotiated
political solution. This crisis will not end through military
force in our judgment," Kerry said.
"A negotiated political settlement as layed out in the
Geneva communique we believe is the best way to end the
bloodshed, respond to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, to
counter the violent extremist groups that we both agree are
growing in their threat to all of us and must be stopped," he
Saudi Arabia, Washington's main Arab ally, is angry over
what is sees as a weak foreign policy on the part of the Obama
administration which has allowed Israel to continue building
settlements in the Palestinian territories and conflict to
persist in Syria.
Saudi concerns are also partly founded on a fear that
President Barack Obama's moves to reduce tensions with Iran will
give Riyadh's main regional adversary an opportunity to extend
its influence in Arab countries.
Kerry reiterated that the United States was determined Iran
would not get a nuclear weapon and promised to keep Saudi
leaders abreast of any talks with Tehran, saying there would be
"no surprises". Iran says it is enriching uranium only for
civilian energy purposes.
However, differences between the countries were also in
evidence, as Kerry said there could be no military solution to
Syria's problems and that the U.S. had neither "the legal
authority nor desire" to intervene in the war.
Kerry said violent extremists in Syria were growing in
strength, a key area of U.S. concern stopping it from working
more closely with the opposition as Saudi Arabia has asked.
However, he said Washington would continue to support
moderate elements in the opposition.
Prince Saud said that while he understood the importance of
talks, they could not go on indefinitely, and added that the
"Geneva 2" Syria peace talks could not happen without the rebels
Kerry also spoke about the Israel-Palestine peace process
and on Egypt, two other areas of dispute between Washington and
Saudi Arabia is angry that the United States has not pushed
Israel hard enough to stop settlement construction and that it
did not back Egypt's military after it ousted a Muslim
Brotherhood government in July.
He said the U.S. would continue to pursue the current track
of negotiations on Middle East peace, and added that Washington
would support economic transformation in Egypt.