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Hillary Clinton discusses Syria with Saudi king

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Saudi Arabia's king to discuss Syria.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah to discuss strategies on Syria on March 30, 2012. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Saudi Arabia's king and foreign minister in Riyadh on Friday to discuss the Syrian conflict, according to Reuters.

The talks came ahead of the second "Friends of the Syrian People" gathering to be held over the weekend in Istanbul. While the US is hoping to help unify the Syrian opposition and push for humanitarian aid, the Saudis, along with Qatar, have called for a more aggressive approach, said the Associated Press.

Saudi Arabia has expressed a desire to arm the rebels and help carve out a haven inside Syria as a base of operations for the opposition.

Though Syria accepted a six-point peace plan put forward by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the fighting has continued unabated, according to CNN.

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According to aides, the discussions between Clinton and the Saudi Arabian leadership would focus on how to make President Bashar al-Assad comply with Annan's plan, including further sanctions against Syria and aid to the opposition.

Responding to Assad's acceptance of Annan's peace plan, Clinton said, "Given Assad's history of overpromising and underdelivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions. We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says," according to AFP.

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The meeting commenced amid tensions over Iran and oil policy and renewed clashes in Syria. The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia became strained in the wake of the Arab Spring, with both countries disagreeing on how to respond, said Reuters.

Robert Jordan, former US ambassador to Riyadh, told Reuters, "Both sides have recognized that their common interests are much more significant than the issues that have recently been dividing them." Some of those issues of common ground include cooperating over anti-terrorism, concern over a nuclear Iran and stability in the Middle East.

In addition to King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Clinton was scheduled to meet with the ministers from five of Saudi Arabia's Gulf Arab neighbors, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, said the AFP.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/saudi-arabia/120330/hillary-clinton-discusses-syria-saudi-king