News / Middle East

Iran, Israel, Oil, Expected to Top Obama-Abdullah Talks



Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah visits President Obama at the White House Tuesday with current tensions over Iran's nuclear program and Palestinian statehood expected on the agenda. The visit comes just days before Mr. Obama is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Saudi monarch's visit also comes just one day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would postpone nuclear talks with major world powers until the end of August.

And it comes after a recent U.N. Security Council vote to impose another round of sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear program and the U.S. Congress's approval of harsher unilateral sanctions against nations that supply Tehran with gasoline.

Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  He told VOA that King Abdullah is likely to express his concerns over Washington's approach to Iran's nuclear threat.

"He sees Iran as being an adversary for Saudi Arabia and a dangerous one as well.  He also sees diplomacy as not succeeding and insufficient to persuade Iran or to stop Iran from going nuclear,” said Henderson. He added, “ And I think he will be showing his frustration to President Obama that what the U.S. administration is trying to do now is too late and not enough."

The Iranians say their nuclear program is for peaceful uses only.  The U.S. government says Tehran is trying to make weapons-grade nuclear material.

Jon Alterman is director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  He agrees that King Abdullah will be looking for assurances that the American plan against Iran will work.

"The Saudis have articulated a lot of reservations about whether sanctions are really going to do anything to keep the Iranians from getting a bomb if that is what they decide to do. And the Saudis feel that if the Iranians did have a bomb, they would be the first to feel it,” said Alterman.

China -- one of the permanent members of the Security Council -- voted in favor of the sanctions. But China also consumes more than 7.5 million barrels of oil each day.

Jon Alterman says King Abdullah is striking a delicate balance between the two powers - because China needs Saudi oil and the Saudis need U.S. security to keep the oil flowing worldwide. "China has very impressive energy demand growth going forward.  The United States has stagnant growth. Europe's oil use is going down. But on the other hand when it comes to security in the Gulf, the United States is the only country from outside the Gulf that can provide security for the Gulf in a comprehensive way. The Chinese cannot do it, the Chinese will not be able to do it for the foreseeable future and the Chinese do not want to do it," he said.

Simon Henderson says that Beijing would prefer to keep its relationship with Iran separate from other countries' efforts to curtail Tehran's nuclear program. "And they would regard bilateral relations with Iran as being important in their own right.  And part of those bilateral relations is to import oil from Iran and to sell Chinese goods to Iran.  They do not like that being muddled up with the nuclear issue."

King Abdullah is also expected to ask the United States to do more to resolve the Palestinian situation.

Last year, President Obama revived a long-standing request for Saudi Arabia to move towards recognition of Israel. The Saudis said they will not make concessions beyond a 2002 Arab plan put forth by King Abdullah which offered recognition in exchange for Israel's return of the occupied territories and allowance of a Palestinian state.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs