Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Kerry holds talks with Saudi Arabia

Published:Monday | May 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this May 15, 2016 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz (right) meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday held talks with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen, ahead of international meetings this coming week in Europe on those crises.

The visit by Kerry, who also held talks with the crown prince, deputy crown prince and foreign minister, comes at a critical time in efforts to rein in fighting and encourage political dialogue in all three countries, wracked by violence for years.

Kerry is trying to shore up the shaky truce in Syria that has been fraught with violations on both sides. While the US and its partners accuse President Bashar Assad's government of the vast majority of breaches, they have acknowledged violations by the opposition.

The situation has been further complicated by the intermingling of some western and Arab-backed rebels with groups such as the al-Qaida affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, which the UN has designated a terrorist organisation and therefore not covered by the truce. Saudi Arabia and the US have rejected attempts by Russia to get those rebels placed on the UN terrorist list.

Kerry was travelling later Sunday to Vienna where he planned to host, with Italy's foreign minister, talks on Libya on Monday, and, with his Russian counterpart, meetings on Syria on Tuesday.

The US on Friday imposed sanctions on the speaker and president of Libya's House of Representatives for what the Obama administration said was their efforts to obstruct and delay political transition in the country. Since the 2011 uprising that toppled leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been split between rival governments. Last year, the UN brokered a deal on a unity government to heal the rift among the Libyans. But the new government has so far failed to gain support from various factions.

Kerry's trip also includes a visit to Brussels for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers before he flies to Asia to meet up with President Barack Obama in Vietnam.