Kerry arrives in Saudi Arabia for key talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane after delivering remarks in Montreux.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane after delivering remarks in Montreux.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia early Thursday for talks with Gulf allies on Middle East turmoil and the battle against jihadists.

Kerry was to brief Gulf foreign ministers about his latest negotiations with Iran to seal a nuclear deal which the United States believes will make the region and the world safer.

He arrived from Switzerland where he spent three days in talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Sunni Gulf nations are wary about the growing rapprochement between Shiite-dominated Iran and Washington, which is seeking the deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program.

With instability sweeping much of the region from Syria to Iraq, Libya and Yemen, Kerry’s talks in Saudi Arabia will focus on “things that we can do together to strengthen our joint security framework,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

The so-called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. and Germany is trying to strike an accord that would prevent Tehran — Riyadh’s regional rival — from developing a nuclear bomb.

In return, the West would ease punishing sanctions on Iran which insists its nuclear program is purely civilian.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations belong to an international coalition brought together by the United States to fight Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, which has captured a swathe of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Kerry will meet with new Saudi King Salman following up on their first talks after the January 23 death of his predecessor late King Abdullah.

The top U.S. diplomat was part of a heavyweight delegation led by President Barack Obama which held talks in Riyadh five days after Salman acceded to the throne.


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