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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 
Shiite rebels.

   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.


(KA)


 
 
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