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Obama, Saudi King to Discuss Syria, Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to meet Friday in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah to address differences over security interests across the Middle East.

The talks near the Saudi capital, Riyadh, are likely to focus mostly on tensions spawned by Syria's civil war and Iran's nuclear program.

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.

Saudi officials have also voiced concern about the tentative dialogue the Obama administration has started with Iran -- the kingdom's top regional rival.

Saudi Arabia is believed to hold major reservations about Iran acquiring nuclear capability and the impact it could have on the region.



President Obama and King Abdullah will also discuss the situation in Egypt, faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and efforts to counter violent extremism.

Bilateral differences over Egypt emerged last year, when Mr. Obama 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 will be joined in Saudi Arabia by Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Wednesday held what the State Department described as productive talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this week, Arab leaders declared they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted on such recognition as a condition for an expanded diplomatic format.

President Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia will mark the final stop on his week-long trip, during which he has tried to secure European unity against Russia's military incursion into Crimea and its annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

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