U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks with King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz about the crisis in Iraq, AFP reports.
Speaking on the sidelines of talks at NATO on Wednesday, Kerry announced the extra stop on his current tour, saying he would stress “the great urgency” of the conflict in Iraq and brief Saudi leaders on his visits to Baghdad and Arbil this week.
“President Obama has also asked me travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday in order to meet with his majesty King Abdullah to discuss regional issues, including clearly the situation in Iraq,” Kerry was quoted as having told a press conference.
The two men would also talk about “how we can counter the sheer threat that is posed by ISIS as well as to discuss our support for the moderate opposition in Syria.”
“None of us need to be reminded that a far away threat can have tragic consequences at home in the most unexpected way, the most unexpected moment,” Kerry added, according to AFP.
Terrorists, spearheaded by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and joined by supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussain, have overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq in the past week, although their advance has since been slowed.
Saudi officials have said the “sectarian” policies of Baghdad’s Shiite-led government are to blame for the takeover by Sunni insurgents of key cities and large swathes of the country.
Saudi Arabia and the United States are close allies, but relations have been strained in recent months, especially over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
President Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia in March and told King Abdullah that the United States would not accept a “bad deal” with Iran, after Saudi Arabia expressed its disappointment with the interim deal that was signed between Iran and the six world powers.
A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.