Kerry on Gulf tour vows backing for Syria rebels; Iran talks not indefinite
By Nicolas Revise, AFPRIYADH -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh Monday that Washington will work to “empower” Syria's opposition, while warning arch-foe Iran that time for talk on Tehran's nuclear ambitions could run out.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
Kerry, on his first tour to the region since becoming the secretary of state, also met over lunch with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who flew in to Riyadh unannounced late on Sunday.
Kerry stressed that there was no question of arming the Syrian opposition, even as his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal insisted on the right of Syrians to self-defense.
The United States will continue to work with its “friends to empower the Syrian opposition,” Kerry told reporters during a joint press conference with the Saudi foreign minister.
Asked about reports of arms being sent to Syria's rebels from countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Kerry replied: “The moderate opposition has the ability to make sure that the weapons are getting to them and not to the wrong hands.”
However, he added, “there is no guarantee that one weapon or another might not fall in the wrong hands.”
The U.S. has so far refused to arm rebels locked in a two-year war against President Bashar al-Assad's loyalists.
Several oil-rich monarchies of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have supported the rebellion against Assad, a staunch ally of their regional arch-foe Iran.