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Kerry to visit Saudi Arabia amid frayed ties

US Secretary of State to mend ties with regional ally which has shown its unhappiness with US policy on Iran and Syria.

Last Modified: 31 Oct 2013 17:25
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Kerry's Riyadh visit follows a spate of unusually public complaints from members of the Saudi ruling family [Reuters]

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, will travel to Saudi Arabia where he will meet Saudi King Abdullah in an effort to ease diplomatic strains over Syria and Iran.

Kerry, who is set to begin his nine-day Middle East and Europe tour on Saturday, will also visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, the state department said on Thursday.

Kerry will "discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues" with Abdullah and "reaffirm the strategic nature of the US-Saudi relationship given the importance of the work between our two countries on shared challenges," department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The visit to Riyadh by the top US diplomat follows a spate of unusually public complaints from leading members of the Saudi ruling family that reflect the kingdom's frustration with the US over its perceived inaction on Syria, its diplomatic engagement with Iran and its coldness toward the military government in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia angrily rejected a UN Security Council seat earlier this month, accusing the UN body of "double standards" over the Syria war and other trouble spots in an unprecedented diplomatic assault.

Poland is also on the itinerary, and Kerry will discuss defence issues with senior Polish officials in the capital, Warsaw, the state department said.

Israeli-Palestinian talks

Kerry wraps up the trip in North Africa with stops in Algiers and Rabat. The department said Kerry will meet with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.

The Secretary of State’s trip from November 3 to November 11 comes amid continuing conflict in Syria, an uncertain Israeli-Palestinian peace process and an uproar over US surveillance activities.

After a quick jaunt to Poland, where the controversy over alleged NSA spying is sure to be raised, Kerry will return to the Middle East for talks with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Emirati officials.

Kerry will discuss the ongoing final status negotiations and other regional issues with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the department said.

The top diplomat and Israeli officials will also discuss Iran.

On Monday, Kerry said he may travel to Egypt in the coming weeks, but Cairo was not on the itinerary for this trip.

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