US Secretary of State John Kerry met Saturday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and other officials from the Middle East country to discuss regional security and the ongoing conflict in Syria.
During the meetings, Kerry reiterated the strong alliance and friendship of the United States and commitment to working together with Saudi Arabia, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and said he will be finalizing the date in the next few days for a foreign ministers GCC meeting.
Speaking a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Kerry said, “We really focused very intently on Syria and all agree on the importance of getting to the talks where the substance of the transitional government takes place as soon as possible,” Kerry said, adding, “”We emphasized together the need to get more humanitarian assistance flowing and we particularly are concerned about allegations of violations by the Assad regime itself even as recently as yesterday, which need to be resolved in order to keep the process moving.”
According to Kerry, there has been a very significant reduction in violence, “maybe 80, 90 percent, but there are clear places of question which we are all deeply concerned about.”
Kerry noted that the cessation of hostilities is an ongoing process, while adding that the Russians and Iranians are expected to do their part to keep the Assad regime adhering to the agreement.
“We believe that the start of talks this next week in Geneva presents a critical moment for bringing the political solution to the table, which we’ve all been waiting for, even as we extend the humanitarian assistance and continue to try to reduce the violence,” Kerry said.
Kerry acknowledged that Yemen was discussed, and said that the United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed to work even more closely together in the next days to explore the possibilities of the political solution.
“We both agree that it would be desirable to see if we can find a similar approach as we did in Syria to try to get a ceasefire,” Kerry said, adding, “We’re going to continue to work on that quietly, and we have a team of people who are going to continue to be working together to that effect.”
“We particularly talked about the challenge of reconstruction and aftermath, should we be fortunate enough at some point in the not-too-distant future to achieve progress in Yemen,” Kerry said.
For his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that with regard, “to the settlement in Yemen, we believe it should be based on the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the national dialogue, and 2216, and we both agreed that this would be the way forward.
Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia, “reiterated to the Secretary of State our commitment, as expressed by the GCC heads of state, to embark on a long-term reconstruction development plan from Yemen once the hostilities there end.”
“We’re determined to protect legitimacy in Yemen, and we are also committed to a political process in Yemen,” al-Jubeir added.
With regard to Libya, Kerry said all agreed on the urgency of getting the Government of National Accord in place and to take very specific steps. While Kerry didn’t release any specific measures, he said, “There is full agreement on the urgency of our cooperation in order to do that. And we believe the Libyan political dialogue in Tunis and the political agreement is really the only legitimate framework within which to try to end the crisis, though there may be other ways growing that effort, which we’re going to explore.”