Obama to meet Saudi king on Iran, Syria concerns

Obama to meet Saudi king on Iran, Syria concerns
Sat Feb 1, 2014 11:39:31

US President Barack Obama has planned a March visit to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi King Abdullah and soothe Saudi concerns about Washington’s policy towards Iran and Syria.

Although the White House has refused to confirm Obama’s planned trip to the Persian Gulf kingdom, US-based daily Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Obama’s stop in Saudi Arabia will be added to his planned tour of Europe next month.

According to the report, the Saudi ruler intends to use the meeting to question Obama on why he decided against airstrikes in Syria, which Saudi and other Arab officials believe strengthened Assad.

The daily further points out that the Arab Spring as well as a November agreement between Iran and other world powers that curbs parts of Tehran's nuclear program, has angered Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies as well as the Israeli regime.

Obama's visit comes following a recent mission to Riyadh by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The development comes as members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family have expressed growing frustration over the West’s diplomatic efforts to resolve its decade-old disputes with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear energy program.

The interim nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US – plus Germany has been a great source of worry for Saudis who fear a widening shift in Washington’s alliance from Riyadh.

“For the Saudis, even more than other Arab leaders, a personal relationship with the US president is important," Michele Dunne, a Mideast expert at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the WSJ. "This is something they have come to expect and have been missing in this administration.”

Moreover, while Washington is providing militants fighting against the Syrian government with arms and Congress has secretly approved funding for such arms deliveries, Saudi officials insists that US arms supplies to the insurgents in Syria are not enough.

“The meeting in many ways will get back to basics,” a Saudi official with knowledge of the planned meeting between Obama and the Saudi Arabian king told the WSJ. “Why did Obama do it the way he did it?”


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