Kerry heads for Saudi Arabia, France for Syria talks

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2016 13:54 IST
US secretary of state John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Amman in February. (Reuters File Photo)

Secretary of state John Kerry will travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday and then on to France at the weekend for talks with key US allies on the crisis in Syria.

The top US diplomat’s first stop will be Hafr al-Batin near Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq, where King Salman has just surveyed a major military exercise.

After talks with senior Saudi officials, Kerry will head on to Paris where Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will host talks with major western allies.

State department spokesman Mark Toner said the talks in Saudi Arabia would focus on the crises in Syria and Yemen, both engulfed in civil war.

Ayrault has said he will meet Kerry and foreign ministers Philip Hammond of Britain, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni.

The talks come at a critical moment in the nearly five-year-old Syrian conflict, with the UN planning to relaunch peace talks on Monday.

Saudi Arabia and Washington back some of the rebel factions fighting the Russian and Iranian-backed regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

But all four major sponsors are also members of the 17-nation International Syria Support Group, which is pushing both sides to negotiate a truce.

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