Kerry in Saudi Arabia: delayed Syria peace talks to resume

By Marilyn Malara   |   Jan. 23, 2016 at 9:32 AM
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Syrian peace talks are expected to resume next week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said while visiting Saudi Arabia Saturday.

Speaking to the press, Kerry said, "We are confident that with good initiative in the next day or so those talks can get going and that the U.N. representative special envoy Staffan De Mistura will be convening people in an appropriate manner for the proximity talks that will be the first meeting in Geneva."

The talks, initially scheduled for Monday, were delayed due to disagreements within the United Nations regarding which opposition groups would be permitted to attend.

Washington Post reports Kerry and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir have come to an agreement regarding a "proximity meeting" taking place in Geneva, where opposition groups will consult indirectly with the regime.

Kerry is in Saudi Arabia not only to discuss Syria, but also to reassure those of the Gulf Cooperation Council the United States is not relaxing its guard following the Iran nuclear deal.

After speaking with the U.S. Secretary of State, Jubeir said he does not foresee the warming relations between the United States and Iran.

"I don't see a coming together of the United States and Iran," he said. "Iran remains the world's chief sponsor of terrorism...I don't believe the United States is under any illusion as to what type of government Iran is."

Kerry summarized his meeting with the GCC on Twitter Saturday, writing it was primarily focused on Syria as an ongoing civil war rips across the state. "Agree success can only be achieved thru cooperation," he wrote.

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