Clinton tries to rally partners on Iran, Syria
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz sit during a meeting in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, on March 30, 2012.
March 30th, 2012
08:30 PM ET

Clinton tries to rally partners on Iran, Syria

By Jill Dougherty

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - Kicking off a short but intense trip to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking for help from America's friends in the region to address complex security challenges in Iran and Syria.

At her first stop Friday in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, Clinton briefed King Abdullah on plans for a meeting two weeks from now, at which Iran says its officials will discuss its nuclear program.

Clinton also discussed Saudi pledges to keep global oil supplies strong, at a time more nations are signing on to U.S.-led sanctions that require them to bar imports of Iranian oil.

The Gulf Cooperation Council's Security Cooperation Forum, which meets Saturday, is key to the U.S. approach in the region.

Aboard the plane with reporters flying in to cover Clinton's trip, a senior State Department official said the aim of the forum is "to provide a strategic context to the kind of defense cooperation that we already have with GCC nations." The six countries in the council are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. government wants a regional missile defense system, with the State Department official saying Washington is now working with each of its partners to develop an "architecture" based on the belief that, "in order to protect the (Persian Gulf region), no one can protect itself."

Asked whether that system is meant to protect against possible missile attacks from Iran - like the European system proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama's administration - the official said Iran "clearly (is) one of the most significant threats that these nations face."

There is no timeline, currently, to implement such a system in the Gulf region, the official noted.

"But it is a priority of our partnerships with GCC countries," added the official.

The United States has already sold a number of different missile defense systems to partners in the region, including Patriot missiles that the official said would form the "building blocks" for such a system.

Saturday's Security Cooperation forum also will include discussions on controlling weapons of mass destruction, maritime security, as well as the situations in Syria, Yemen and so-called Arab Spring countries.

After her trip to Saudi Arabia, Clinton will fly to Istanbul, Turkey, for a meeting on Sunday with the "Group of Friends of the Syrian People." Representatives from 60 nations have been invited to attend, ostensibly in an effort to help end the bloodshed in Syria.

Another senior State Department official told journalists that finding some way to get humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by the violence is a top priority.

Numerous nations, the official said, are trying to do more to address the situation, with other U.S. officials indicating some humanitarian is already getting to Syrian civilians along the embattled nation's borders.

A Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, is scheduled to make a presentation to the meeting in Istanbul summarizing its efforts to unite the disparate groups that form the opposition. U.S. administration officials have expressed concern over their lack of cohesion and are urging them to lay out a plan for a post al-Assad Syria that would protect ethnic and religious groups.

"We are continuing to work with them to try to strengthen them in that regard," the official said. "They have been reporting that they expect to be able to make progress and to demonstrate progress at this meeting on Sunday, so we'll look forward to what they bring."

The official added that tightening economic sanctions on the Syrian regime will be a key topic at Istanbul, "particularly making sure that groups and regional organizations and individual nations that have committed to sanctions are fully implementing them."

In addition, the United States is "starting a conversation now about how we can begin to catalogue accountability issues ... in particular for atrocities committed during this period," the official said.

Washington has insisted that al-Assad's regime halt attacks by his security forces first, after which the armed opposition would lay down its arms.

Explaining how this would work, the State Department official said, "Get the guns silenced and then, as Assad takes steps to implement promises he made, then (U.N. and Arab League special envoy) Kofi Annan and others with influence with the opposition would make sure that their guns should be silenced as well."

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. debra galleahawk

    Iran wanted the right to obtain Nukes well STOP THREATNING TO BLOW PEOPLE OFF THE DAMN MAP ! would a parent give matches to a 1 year old as a toy NOT !!
    WE cant trust you when you have radicall leaders threatning Israel ! and if you do bomb Israel
    you need to read Ezekiel 38 my friend you will BE TOAST and so will GOG (Russia )

    just get over your self
    ishmel is NOT the Chosen child of ISREAL
    Issiac was ... so stop creating more strife for everyone
    and btw what with the Russian Destroyers you have partnered with you ??
    you dont fool us

    April 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  2. debra galleahawk

    frankly im sick of her goody toe shoes acts that fake smile and then threats to the middle east and iran
    you know its stirring up the pot so to speak they need to yank her by the ugly hairs of her head
    and keep her in the white house away from the Middle East Affairs !!
    no one person will help this situation and shes making is WORSE ! and wheres obamma ( Clinton is wearing his pants and obamma wears the dress ! sick !

    April 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  3. RJP

    well either something is about to happen. Everything is slowly starting to go down..

    April 2, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply
  4. Bill Clinton

    Liar liar pants on fire

    April 2, 2012 at 4:12 am | Reply
  5. Bill Clinton

    What the hell qualifies her to be sec of state? Just because she was my wife? Maybe cause she is a fallen cherub reptillian. Look at "her" like so many in "government" she is obviously a hellion

    April 2, 2012 at 4:06 am | Reply
  6. David


    fukk no


    April 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  7. IRAN

    TEHRAN – The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations has said that Tehran will not negotiate with the major powers over its inalienable rights.

    Ambassador Mohammad Khazaii made the remarks during an interview with the Washington-based radio network NPR on February 9.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to engage in negotiations with the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), but it will not negotiate over its inalienable rights, Khazaii stated.

    Furthermore, Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is not after acquiring military atomic technology but resolute to continue with its nuclear energy program.

    We “will never, ever suspend our activities, including [uranium] enrichment,” he added.
    Iran is determined to continue nuclear energy program, US sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities have been ineffective.

    He also said that Tehran will send a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six major powers in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

    Iran is ready to hold serious talks without preconditions, he added.

    But those who think that Iran will change its logical and principled policy under the pressure of sanctions are mistaken, Khazaii said, adding that the Islamic Republic has never made concessions on its absolute rights.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Reply


      April 1, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
      • King of Men

        Stop meddling in other people's business, ya Jerry Springer-Maury Povich-worshipping cocksucker.

        April 1, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  8. IRAN

    Article IV of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
    1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

    2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

    Article X. Establishes the right to withdraw from the Treaty giving 3 months' notice. It also establishes the duration of the Treaty (25 years before 1995 Extension Initiative).

    Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance) FOR IRAN TO RETALIATE WITH EQUAL FORCE IF ATTACKED.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  9. David

    Stop supporting Israeli aggression.

    Research israels crimes against humanity.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  10. Jay

    No mention of deaths and detentions in SA or Bahrain by Mrs. Clinton?! Nothing about suppression of the rights of the majority by brutal methods by our allies SA and Bahrain?! I am sure she mentioned and it was just lost in translation.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  11. King of Men

    I'll bet 'ol Hill could take that gold globe all the way up her greedy, sagging ass. And if not, then the gimp could ram it up there with her cane while taking it up her shitter from King Cornholla.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:16 am | Reply
  12. Lucifer

    Clinton is just buying her time till she gets the ultimate dream job, Head of the IMF or even a world bank position. Her handlers must be proud of her. Imagine where she would be if she did NOT stay with Bill, probably not in the same position. It's always going to be a "who you know and who you blow" type of world.... Better get on your knees.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:03 am | Reply
  13. Mauglie

    I don’t understand the US stand on Saudi. The root problem of Middle East is unequal distribution of wealth. Few individual hold the key to trillions and this has to change!!! Oil is important and stable yet democratic Saudi is good for the world. Why can’t US invest on a new breed of leaders, something beyond Saud family?? I feel more enthusiastic and optimistic when the US administration speaks about democracy and people’s power with ruler than Iran.
    I am not an Iranian supporter or sympathiser. But the positive side of that country is, it looks closer to the definition of a nation than a princely state like Saudi. I think Saudi Arabia is not a good fit with modern world – it needs to change, else the world needs to impose CHANGE on it. Not only US, but countries like ASEAN, India, EU, African Union – can map a new leadership for the state.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:33 am | Reply
    • Sonny

      A state (US) cannot be thought in individual terms but rather as a cold, selfish and sometime ruthless entity whose sole purpose is to propagate and safeguard its interests, period. One of those major national interests is energy accessibility (ahem-oil,gas)–so that you may drive your big American SUV for relaxation, use your AC 24/7 or type on CNN blog:)

      April 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • Sonny

      While I grew up in Jedahh, majority of Saudis themselves are ambivalent (Shites are often hostile because of their mistreatment by majority Sunni Saudis) about the royal family-House of Saud, which, like other Gulf sheikdoms (Bahrain, UAE,Qatar, Oman, Kuwait) maintaining a iron-fisted rule–by bribing their subjects with petro $ubsidies. If that doesn't work–like Bahrain, then they use the ultimate power that comes from the barrel of a gun! So until we find something that can replace gunpowder and power, in the real world the US, UK, EU, ASEAN, China and every countries that use oils or oil products will continue to kiss up to OPEC. Think about this next time you fill up!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  14. Michael

    When Hillary goes out to play all phe males run away, cuz sure as hell she wants someone to die right away.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
  15. mipolitic

    SURE MRS CLINTON IS CONCERNED WITH SYRIA LIKE SO MANY OF US , but lets not be clear and join in on the scam . why even carry this cnn ? honestly why ? how about using the same shelf that so many other events are put on.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply

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