US Secretary of State John Kerry met Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for talks on the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen ahead of larger meetings on those crises in Europe this week.
Kerry was also scheduled to meet Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, deputy crown prince and foreign minister. His visit comes at a critical time in efforts to rein in fighting and encourage political dialogue in all three countries that have been wracked by violence for years.
Kerry is trying to shore up the shaky truce in Syria, which has been fraught with violations on both sides. While the US and its partners accuse the government of the vast majority of breaches, they have also 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 organization 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 travels later Sunday to Vienna where he will co-host group talks on Libya with Italy’s foreign minister and then on Syria with his Russian counterpart. He will then visit Brussels for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers before flying on to Asia to meet President Barack Obama in Vietnam.