Kerry Heads to Saudi Arabia Nuke Talks 03/04 06:24
MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) -- Fresh from the latest round of Iran nuclear
negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Saudi Arabia to
ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging deal and discuss ways to calm
instability in troubled Yemen and other Mideast nations.
Kerry will leave the Iran talks in the Swiss resort town of Montreux later
Wednesday and fly to Riyadh where he will see the new Saudi monarch, King
Salman, and meet separately with the foreign ministers of the members of the
Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates. The Sunni-ruled Gulf states, like Israel, are unnerved by
Shiite Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons and its increasing
assertiveness throughout the region.
U.S. officials say Kerry will reassure them that a deal with Tehran will not
allow Iran to get the bomb and won't mean American complacency on broader
security matters. Iran is actively supporting forces fighting in Syria and Iraq
and is linked to Shiite rebels that recently toppled the U.S. and Arab-backed
government in Yemen.
The officials said Kerry will reiterate that the U.S. supports U.N. efforts
to promote a dialogue leading to a political transition in Yemen, which is
embroiled in a political crisis that threatens to split the country. The
U.N.-mediated talks are aimed at breaking the political stalemate between the
rebels known as the Houthis and Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
On Tuesday, Hadi proposed Riyadh, the Saudi capital and headquarters of the
Gulf Cooperation Council, as a possible venue for the resumption of
U.N.-sponsored talks with Shiite rebels who have seized Yemen's own capital,
Sanaa. But the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are almost certain to reject moving
the talks to Riyadh, given Saudi Arabia's opposition to their power grab in
Yemen, the kingdom's southern neighbor. Complicating the situation, the
political crisis comes as Yemen's al-Qaida branch, considered by Washington the
terror network's most dangerous offshoot, is stepping up attacks against the
Hadi's offer of Riyadh as negotiators' venue came during a meeting with
tribal leaders in Aden, where he has been based since fleeing house arrest in
Sanaa last month.
Hadi has called for the relocation of embassies to Aden, as several GCC
members have done already.
The United States, which closed its embassy in Sanaa last month and
evacuated its diplomatic staff, has no plans to relocate to Aden, although the
U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Matthew Tueller, met with Hadi in Aden on Monday.
Until the crisis is resolved and the embassy reopened, Tueller and some of his
staff will be based in an office at the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia,
the officials said.