July 15, 2016 / 9:02 PM / in a year

Russian help fighting IS welcome, but not at cost of keeping Assad: Saudi official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Friday the kingdom would welcome effective Russian participation in the fight with Islamic State in Syria but not at the expense of keeping the Syrian president in power or further attacks on moderate rebels.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures next to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Al-Jubeir, speaking at a news conference in Washington, said Saudi Arabia was following U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks with his Russian counterpart. Kerry was talking to the Russians about closer military and intelligence cooperation against Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria.

“Anything that can be done to bring the Russians into the fight against Daesh in an effective way is something that I think people would welcome,” al-Jubeir told reporters, using another name for Islamic State. “But it cannot be at the cost of keeping Bashar al-Assad in power and it cannot be with the Russians continuing to attack the moderate Syrian opposition.”

Reporting by Yara Bayoumy and Isma'il Kushkush; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Eric Beech

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