(MENAFN - Arab News) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here yesterday that mainly focused on possible unified strategy on the crisis in Syria, according to Saudi and US sources.
The talks, attended by several high-ranking Saudi and US officials, also covered "a range of bilateral subjects and key regional issues," said Mofid H. Deak, a spokesman of the US Embassy here.
Deak pointed out that "there were only two official meetings of Clinton yesterday - one with King Abdullah and the other with Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister."
An SPA report said that Clinton conveyed the greetings of US President Barack Obama to the king, which were fondly reciprocated by King Abdullah. The talks, according to the report, covered "overall situation and developments in the region as well as on global level."
The talks are extremely important keeping in view the 60-nation gathering of the "Friends of the Syrian People" in Istanbul over the weekend that is aimed at finding ways to aid Syria's opposition and to stop the bloodshed in that country.
The US and the Kingdom are hoping to help unify the opposition's ranks while pushing for humanitarian aid and further isolation of President Bashar Assad's regime.
The talks were attended by Prince Salman, defense minister; Prince Saud Al-Faisal, minister of foreign affairs; Prince Muqrin; chief of Saudi Intelligence; Prince Sattam, Riyadh governor; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of state, Cabinet member and commander of the National Guard; and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister for foreign affairs. Saudi Ambassador to US Adel Al-Jubeir and American Ambassador James Smith were also present.
According to a Saudi official, the discussions with King Abdullah as well as Prince Saud mainly focused on "Syria and other developments in the Arab world."
"But, Clinton will spell out her plans and policies possibly in the GCC-US ministerial meeting," he added.
"The meeting of the foreign ministers of the GCC together with Clinton and other US officials will be held at the GCC General Secretariat today afternoon," said Ahmed Al-Kaabi, said a GCC spokesman here yesterday.
The meeting at the GCC secretariat will focus on the Gulf's position on Syria and the role of the US and other allies, said Al-Kaabi. In fact, Saudi Arabia, along with fellow Gulf nation Qatar, has called for a timely approach, including arming the rebels and carving out a safe haven inside Syria from where the opposition can operate.
Clinton, meanwhile, has cautiously welcomed the Syrian government's endorsement of the six-point plan that called for an immediate cease-fire with rebels and an eventual democratic transition in Syria.
She said it was an important step toward peace, but stressed that the Syrian regime now has to deliver. "Given Assad's history of overpromising and under-delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate action," Clinton told reporters in Washington before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
"We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says. If he is ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria's history to a close, he could prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas," she added.
Clinton said Assad must also implement the rest of UN envoy Kofi Annan's plan. Her hesitation reflected the Syrian leader's previous promises to meet the demands of protesters and later Arab League monitors on democratic reforms that were never enacted.
The GCC spokesman said that her meeting with GCC foreign ministers is "significant before engaging in broader meetings Sunday with Arab, Turkish and Western officials in Istanbul." The meeting in Turkey follows the inaugural one Clinton attended in Tunis at the end of February - a response to Western and Arab failure to win Russian and Chinese backing at the UN Security Council.
Clinton will discuss how to make Assad comply with a new plan to end the crackdown, study further sanctions against his regime and consider ways to aid the opposition.
Meanwhile, at the weekend meeting with Clinton, Turkey plans to renew a call for international help to deal with the soaring numbers of Syrians fleeing violence to Turkey's southern provinces.