Secretary Kerry, Foreign Minister Jubeir on Syria and the Region, Prep for Munich Meet

Published: February 9, 2016

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Editor’s Note:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir met at the State Department yesterday for consultations on Syria and regional issues. Afterwards they talked with the press and commented on the push for a ceasefire in Syria and hopes for progress in this week’s meeting in Munich. Here are their remarks.

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Secretary of State John Kerry Remarks With Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir

Washington, DC
February 8, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for being here. It’s my pleasure to welcome the foreign minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir, an old friend of mine. We have been working at this for a long, long time together. And now, ironically, we met when he was first in the foreign service and I was first in the Senate, and now he is the foreign minister, as am I.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-JUBEIR: That was three years ago? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: I wish. We talked today, as we have for the last few days by telephone and in person, about the urgency of being able to move forward on a number of different peace fronts in the Middle East. First and foremost, we are deeply engaged in trying to get the International Syria Support Group to be in a position to be able to move towards full humanitarian access and a full ceasefire, which is in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. And we hope that when we meet in Munich in the next few days we’ll be in a position where we can make progress in that goal.

We also talked about Yemen and the hope that perhaps over the course of these next weeks it may become possible to try to engage in some productive conversations about how to bring that conflict to a close. We also talked about the ongoing challenge of meeting the needs of the Palestinians, the security of Israel, and dealing with the Middle East, what is always known as the Middle East peace process. The foreign minister indicated to me the readiness and willingness of Saudi Arabia, which was the creator of the Arab Peace Initiative and then moved the Arab Peace Initiative to a more modern state of accepting that there needed to be some adjustments in the swaps. They are – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been deeply invested in wanting to try to make peace in that part of the world and see a two-state solution implemented.

So it’s our hope that because we both believe in diplomacy that over the course of these next days some progress can be made with respect to Syria and we can lay the groundwork for even more efforts ahead. And I thank King Salman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their solid efforts to help deal with the coalition against Daesh, their commitment recently of a willingness to put troops into that fight also, and there are many steps that we have taken with the GCC countries that are very critical to the ongoing security of the region. Thank you.

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FOREIGN MINISTER AL-JUBEIR: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, my friend, John Kerry. You have said – covered the whole landscape and left very little for me to add. But what I do want to add is that this visit is part of our continuing consultations and coordinating of our positions with regards to protecting our interests in the region and in the world.

We have a tremendous stake in stability and peace and security in the region. We have a tremendous stake in trying to resolve the problems in the region before they consume all of us. We are determined to work with our allies in the United States and our allies around the world to bring this about, whether it is in the war against terrorism, whether it is in trying to stabilize the Middle East, whether it’s in trying to begin a political transition in Syria, implementing 2254, whether it’s in bringing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, peace to Yemen.

Our region, unfortunately, is experiencing many challenges, and the resolution of these challenges is critically important to the future of the region and the world. And we are determined to – as I said, to work with our American friends in trying to find solutions to these areas in a way that promotes peace and security for all people of the region as well as people of the world.

I want to thank you, John, for receiving me once again in the State Department. It’s always a pleasure to see you and to exchange views with you. And thanks again for this, once again, very productive meeting, and I look forward to seeing you in a few days in Munich so we can continue our efforts. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you my friend.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary —

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. I don’t have time now. I’m really just – I don’t have time. It’s not that I won’t, I just don’t have the time. Thank you.

Source: US State Department

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