News / Middle East

Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia in March

FILE - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
FILE - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
TEXT SIZE - +
— U.S. President Barack Obama is to visit Saudi Arabia next month after a trip to three European nations.  Talks with Saudi King Abdullah will focus on regional security issues, including the Syrian civil war and international negotiations with Iran for a final agreement on its nuclear program.  

Saudi Arabia was added to the already announced itinerary for Obama in Europe, including the global Nuclear Summit in The Netherlands, consultations with NATO and the EU in Brussels, and Italy, where he will meet Pope Francis and Italian leaders.

Long close allies, U.S.-Saudi relations have been severely strained.  Saudi officials complained bitterly last year about what they saw as Obama's reluctance to intervene militarily in Syria, or to do more to arm rebels.

Riyadh is providing weapons to the rebels.  Saudi Arabia also remains concerned about support that Shiite Iran, its chief regional rival, has given to President Bashar al-Assad.  Warring Syrian parties recently held inconclusive face-to-face talks in Geneva.

Saudi leaders also are watching closely the P5+1 negotiations with Tehran for a final nuclear deal.  Other issues include nervousness about events in Egypt, where there has been ongoing violence ahead of a new election.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked Monday if scheduling Obama's stop in Riyadh was aimed at carrying out "damage control."

"Saudi Arabia is a close partner of the United States and we have a bilateral relationship that is broad and deep and covers a range of areas, and the president very much looks forward to the visit where all of those areas will be discussed in meetings.  And whatever differences we may have do not alter the fact this is a very important and close partnership," said Carney.

In newspaper interviews last year, influential former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, strongly criticized U.S. Mideast policy.

This focused on President Obama's approach on Syria, specifically his eventual decision not to use military force in response to Syrian government chemical weapons attacks, and the Iran negotiations.

President Obama and the Saudi monarch spoke by telephone this past November.  The White House said Obama "reiterated the firm commitment "of the United States to friends and allies in the Gulf.  

Secretary of State John Kerry visited Saudi Arabia last year and again in January as part of efforts to address Saudi concerns, and discuss Mideast peace efforts.

President Obama is scheduled to meet February 14 with King Abdullah of Jordan at the Sunnylands estate in California.  Those talks will also focus on Syria, Israel-Palestinian peace efforts and other issues.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid