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Saudi Arabia is “very important partner” says Kerry - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (right) talk during a joint press conference November 4, 2013 in Riyadh. AFP Photo/Jason Reed

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (right) talk during a joint press conference November 4, 2013 in Riyadh. AFP Photo/Jason Reed

Jeddah and Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Saudi counterpart sought to play down differences between their two countries during an official visit to the Kingdom on Monday.

Kerry arrived in Riyadh from Cairo on the second stop of a tour of several Middle Eastern countries, in a visit widely believed to be aimed at resolving recent tensions in the US–Saudi relationship.

Prior to Kerry’s arrival, Saudi political analyst Abdelaziz bin Saqir told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia was dissatisfied with the US position on Syria and with developments in Egypt. He also said the Kingdom was unhappy about the current negotiations between the US and Iran regarding the nuclear issue, the details of which were not disclosed to the Gulf’s Arab states.

Speaking at a press conference after his meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Kerry said: “This is a deep relationship and it has endured for 75 years and it will endure well into the future.”

On the Saudi side, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said “our two friendly countries” were continuing to cooperate, and “there is no room for emotion and anger here, but rather for policies of common sense and level-headedness.”

“The fact of the matter is that the historic relationship between the two countries has always been based on independence, mutual respect and constructive cooperation,” he added.

Prior to his meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Kerry told staff at the US embassy in Riyadh that a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia remained a linchpin of US Middle East policy.

“The Saudis have the ability to be able to influence a lot of the things that we also care about,” he said. “The Saudis are very, very important to all of these things. The Saudis are really the sort of senior player, if you will, in the Arab world, together with Egypt. Egypt is in more of a transition, so Saudi Arabia’s role is that much more important.”

Hiba Al-Qudsi contributed in reporting.