News / Middle East

Obama Meets King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia to Offer Reassurances

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, escort President Barack Obama to his meeting with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, March 28, 2014.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, escort President Barack Obama to his meeting with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, March 28, 2014.
Luis Ramirez
After discussing the Ukraine crisis with allies in Europe, President Barack Obama's attention is now in Saudi Arabia, where he arrived on Friday to try to ease Saudi concerns about U.S. policy on Iran and  Syria.

Saudi Arabia is a longtime friend and energy source of the United States, but its rulers have quietly expressed concerns about the direction of U.S. policy in Iran and Syria.

They made those concerns known to Obama on Friday in a meeting of more than two hours that U.S. officials describe as a frank discussion.

Immediately after landing in Riyadh, the president boarded a helicopter and flew to a desert camp to meet with the King Abdullah.  

The meeting took place in an ornate room with gilded chairs and under jeweled chandeliers. The 89-year-old king appeared to be wearing oxygen tubes, but officials said he engaged in  a vigorous discussion and articulated his views.

Topping the list of concerns is Iran - a rival of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are wary that U.S. negotiations on lifting sanctions in exchange for nuclear concessions from Tehran may compromise security in the region.  

David Ottaway, a scholar at the Wilson Center research organization who has written extensively on U.S.-Saudi relations, said, “The Saudis are much less worried about nuclear talks than they are about what this means for the relationship for the United States and Saudi Arabia, because they are worried if there is any kind of agreement on nuclear talks, the U.S. and Iran will then try to look for other areas of cooperation," he said.

The Saudis also have grievances about Obama's decision to not follow up on his threats to strike at the Syrian government after its poison gas attack in a Damascus suburb last year, and what the Saudis see as Washington's reluctance to arm Syrian rebels.

In a move that could ease Saudi concerns, the U.S. on Friday said it is considering allowing shipments of air defense systems - known as manpads - to the rebels.

The White House says that while the U.S. and Saudi views have - in the words of one senior official - “not been exactly aligned,” there is no fundamental split in the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Obama came here after a tour of Europe, where he worked to build up support among allies to end the crisis in Ukraine. The president spoke Friday to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and asked him to put in writing a concrete response to a proposal the U.S. has presented for a diplomatic solution.

That proposal calls for a pullback of Russian troops. The president spoke to Scott Pelley of CBS Evening News during an earlier stop in Rome.

"I think it is well known and well acknowledged you've seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises, but these are not what Russia would normally be doing," said Obama. "And, you know, it may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be that they've got additional plans. And, in either case, what we need right now to resolve and de-escalate the situation would be to Russia, for Russia to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community."

The U.S. also wants Russia to engage in dialogue with the Ukrainian government.

Secretary of State John Kerry presented the proposal to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in The Hague days ago. Kerry and the Russian official are due to meet again in the coming days.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
March 28, 2014 10:20 PM
Saudi is the master of double standard. Saudi is not a friend to United state. United state has to develop energy resources to make the country self sufficiency.

In Response

by: Nasir from: Middle Est
March 29, 2014 3:33 AM
I think America is not able to protect their allies like befor .instead of this ,they may support Iran and the goverment of Iraq as well as in some how syria regims .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid