US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks Thursday with Gulf allies wary of an emerging nuclear deal with Tehran, alleging that the United States will not take its eye off Iran actions in the Middle East.
Kerry, fresh from three days of nuclear negotiations with Iran in Switzerland, gathered at a Riyadh air base with foreign ministers from the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations.
“Even as we engage in these discussions with Iran around this program, we will not take our eye off Iran’s destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen particularly,” he told reporters in Riyadh.
Kerry said Washington was not seeking a “grand bargain”. “Nothing will be different the day after this agreement, if we reach one, with respect to any other issues that challenge us in this region, except we will have taken steps to guarantee that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.”
“Assad Lost Legitimacy”
Riyadh, supporting the militants in Syria, was angered that the US appeared to sideline moves to reach a political solution under which President Assad would allegedly give up power.
Syria’s Assad has “lost any semblance of legitimacy, but we have no higher priority than disrupting and defeating Daesh and other terror networks,” Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. “Ultimately a combination of diplomacy and pressure will be needed to bring about a political transition. Military pressure particularly may be necessary given President Assad’s reluctance to negotiate seriously.”
For his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on the US-led coalition to launch a land campaign against the militants during the joint press conference with Kerry.
The kingdom “stresses the need to provide the military means needed to face this challenge on the ground,” Faisal said.
The Saudi top diplomat said Tikrit is an example of what is worrying the kingdom.