US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday hoping for talks on tensions between Iran and the Gulf Kingdom, which erupted over Riyadh’s execution of prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Kerry was to attend a joint meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir and other foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
He will also hold talks with King Salman and his powerful son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the defence minister.
“We understand the Saudi anger over the attack on their facilities in Iran,” a senior US State Department official said before Kerry’s arrival.
“But we also understand that lessening tensions is an important objective not only for the United States but for the region”.
The dispute between Saudi and Iran started after the Gulf Kingdom executed prominent cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqer al-Nimr, a move that Iran had repeatedly warned against.
Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass pro-democracy protests against Riyadh, which erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority has long complained of marginalization.