Kerry to discuss Iran nuclear problem during Middle East trip

Secretary of State John Kerry planned to make preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon one focus of his trip to the Middle East, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

A senior official with the State Department made the remarks on Friday during a background briefing on Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to the Middle East. Kerry planned to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Algeria during the trip. One senior official said that during his trip to Saudi Arabia, Kerry would focus on Syria, Egypt, Middle East peace and Iran.

"All of these are issues that we have ongoing discussions with the Saudis about - on Syria, finding a resolution to the civil war, particularly moving toward the Geneva peace conference; on Iran, preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon as - particularly as we head into the P5+1 talks in Geneva next week; helping Egypt to move forward on its political roadmap and to discuss the importance of economic reform," the senior official said.

When asked about the key message that Kerry would take to Saudi Arabia, the senior department official said the U.S. shared concerns with Saudi Arabia about Iran. The official said it was just a matter of making sure Saudi Arabia understands how firm the U.S. position remains.

"We, frankly, completely agree with the Saudis about their concerns," the official said. "By no means are we leaning toward loosening any of our views on what the Iranians have been doing to support terrorist operations, terrorist groups around the region. And obviously, the P5+1 talks are geared toward ensuring that Iran cannot ever obtain a nuclear weapon, and on that we completely agree with Saudi Arabia."

Kerry's trip was scheduled to begin on Sunday afternoon in Cairo.