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Sat 12 Mar 2016 12:58 AM

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US Secretary of State Kerry meets King Salman in Saudi Arabia

Kerry was expected to discuss the crisis in Syria and Yemen and other security issues in the meetings

US Secretary of State Kerry meets King Salman in Saudi Arabia
US Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State John Kerry met King Salman and other senior Saudi officials on Friday for talks expected to focus on the war in Syria, according to a US pool reporter accompanying Kerry.

Kerry, on a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia and then France, was also expected to discuss the crisis in Yemen and other security issues in the meetings at a military base near Hafr Al-Batin near the Saudi border with Iraq.

After talks with the king, Kerry went into a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, saying "I think we have to talk about Syria" before journalists were asked to leave the venue.

Syrian peace talks are set to get under way in Geneva next week, and the main Syrian opposition group, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has said it will attend.

The UN-brokered talks will take place two weeks after the start of a ceasefire agreement.

The truce deal has reduced violence although not halted the fighting, with further hostilities reported in western Syria on Friday.

The agreement, accepted by the government and most of its enemies, is the first truce of its kind in a five-year-old war that has killed more than 250,000 people and driven millions of Syrians from their homes.

Washington and allies including Saudi Arabia and Turkey have backed opposition groups representing political and armed factions in Syria's civil war, while Russia and Iran support President Bashar al-Assad.

On Saturday and Sunday, Kerry will be in Paris to meet his counterparts from France, Britain, Germany, Italy and the European Union to discuss a wide range of regional and global issues, the State Department has said.

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