Saudi Foreign Minister, Kerry Patch Over Relations

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh November 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh November 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)

The United States and Saudi Arabia promised each other and the region Monday that they would continue to work together, with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal saying “our two friendly countries” are busy dealing jointly with troublesome issues like Syria, Iran and the Mideast peace process.

“There is no room for emotion and anger here, but rather for policies of commonsense and level-headedness,” Faisal said at a joint news conference with Kerry.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for his visit to Saudi Arabia as differences between the two countries intensified over the Obama administration’s policy toward war-torn Syria, its movement toward a possible dialogue with Iran, a regional rival of the Saudis, and its stance on Egypt’s military coup.

Al-Faisal also expressed his deep frustration with the United Nations, where the Saudis recently rejected a seat on the Security Council because of its inability to achieve progress in the Syria or for the Palestinians.

The prince told Kerry: “A true relationship between friends is based on sincerity, candor and frankness, rather than mere courtesy.” The pair appeared together not long after Kerry, speaking to U.S. employees at the American Embassy here, hailed the kingdom’s role as “the senior player” in the Middle East.

For his part, Kerry said: “this is a deep relationship and it has endured for 75 years and it will endure well into the future.”

Kerry in the past has played down the separate stances as differences in “tactics” rather than in the end goal.

Kerry is in Saudi Arabia on the second leg of a 10-day tour through the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. From Riyadh, he will travel to Poland, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco before returning to Washington.