Biden calls Saudi Arabia after diplomatic gaffe

WASHINGTON - US Vice President Joe Biden called Saudi Arabia's foreign affairs minister Tuesday and "clarified" his diplomatic gaffe in which he suggested Saudi Arabia and other key allies had financed the Islamic State group, the White House said.

Biden had already apologised to the leaders of the two other countries, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which, like Saudi Arabia are key members of the US-led coalition taking on IS in Syria and Iraq.

The remarks had caused consternation in the Middle East and questions in Washington as to whether they would dampen the resolve of US allies who have signed up to fight the jihadist group, which has overrun large swaths of Syria and Iraq in recent months.

The vice president thanked Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal for Saudi Arabia's cooperation in the international coalition, a White House official said.

Biden also "clarified" his remarks regarding how the conflict first unfolded in Syria, the official added, saying both officials agreed the issue had been closed.

In his comments, Biden referred to Turkey and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis as friends.

But he said they been so determined to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that they had "poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight against" him.

"Except the people being supplied were Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world," Biden said.