US Gulf Allies Move Forward on Syria

RIYADH—The U.S. and its Gulf allies have “clarity” on how to precede on the initial steps in talks that could lead to a political transition in Syria, says Secretary of State John Kerry. 

He commented from Riyadh Saturday following talks with Saudi officials and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

Kerry said there was agreement that the International Syria Support Group would meet “immediately” after the first round of the U.N.-led Syria talks, which are planned for next week in Geneva. 

“We want to keep the process moving,” said Kerry, to bring the process of a transition in Syria “into a reality.”

Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S. are among the world powers that make up the support group that has been backing the U.N.-led process.

US Iran relations

The meeting between Kerry and U.S. Gulf allies has come on the heels on what some have perceived as a warming of ties between the U.S. and Iran following last week’s implementation of the nuclear deal, a prisoner swap and U.S. negotiations that resulted in the release of 10 detained sailors. 

In the joint news conference with Kerry, however, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir struck a conciliatory tone concerning his country, saying he did not see a “coming together” of the U.S. and Iran. 

He also said he did not believe the U.S. was under any “illusions” about what “kind of government Iran is.”

Kerry and Jubeir sat side-by-side, and appeared comfortable with each other as they discussed tensions in the region. 

Kerry is on the second leg of a five-nation tour that will also include stops in Laos, Cambodia and also China, where he will focus on efforts to coordinate an international response to North Korea’s test of what it claimed was a nuclear device.

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