RIYADH (AFP) - Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday the US relationship with Saudi Arabia should stay "on track", as he visited the oil-rich kingdom to ease tensions over Syria and Iran.
"Right now we have some very important things to talk about to make certain the Saudi-US relationship is on track, moving forward and doing the things that we need to accomplish," he told embassy staff in Riyadh.
Mr Kerry was speaking just ahead of talks with Saudi King Abdullah aimed at easing tensions triggered by US policy on Syria and a fledgling outreach to Iran over its nuclear programme.
He first met on Monday with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal ahead of his talks with the king in his palace in Riyadh.
"I particularly wanted to have the opportunity to visit with his majesty the king," Mr Kerry told US embassy staff, at a morning meeting in the American mission in Riyadh's diplomatic quarter.
"I'm particularly grateful because I know he's not seeing enormous numbers of people these days."
Washington and Riyadh needed to discuss "a lot happening in this region," Kerry said highlighting the difficult transition in Egypt, the war in Syria and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
He praised the Saudis as "really the senior player in the Arab world," saying they had the ability "to influence a lot of the things that we also care about."
Mr Kerry repeated US assurances that "Iran will not get a nuclear weapon".
He also added: "Slowly but surely people are beginning to realise there's a better alternative to the incredible nihilism where people think that you get somewhere by blowing other people up."