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Obama, Saudi King Face Key Differences in Riyadh Summit

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to hold summit talks Friday in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah to address differences over security interests across the Middle East.

In addition to addressing tensions spawned by Syria's civil war, U.S. officials say the talks will likely cover Iran, Egypt, faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and efforts to counter violent extremism.

The three-year Syrian civil war has contributed to sectarian tensions across the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia was critical of the U.S. decision last year to abandon plans for arming rebels fighting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Riyadh government has also voiced concern over the tentative dialogue the Obama administration has started with Iran -- the kingdom's top regional rival.

Bilateral differences over Egypt emerged last year, when President Obama sharply criticized the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The Saudi government provided support for the military-backed government that replaced the ousted president.

Mr. Obama is expected to be joined in Riyadh by Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Wednesday held what the State Department described as productive talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.



Kerry also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone as part of a push to ease Israeli-Palestinian differences that threaten to derail future peace talks.

The latest obstacle to further talks came Wednesday, when Arab leaders declared they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Israeli prime minister has insisted on such recognition as a condition for an expanded diplomatic format.

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