Obama heads to Saudi Arabia to discuss counterterrorism

US President Barack Obama to discuss counterterrorism and defence with Saudi and Gulf nations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama speaks following a meeting with his National Security Council at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia on April 13, 2016.

A White House official said on Thursday that US President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter would travel to Riyadh next week for talks on counterterrorism and bolstering ballistic missile defence systems with leaders in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf region.

Obama will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday and then attend a summit with other leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Thursday. Carter will meet his counterparts just before the summit on Wednesday, the White House announced.

Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that Obama is planning to discuss the fight against DAESH terrorists in Syria and Iraq with the GCC, as well as the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen and Iran and regional stability issues.

"As you'll hear more coming out of the summit, there's been agreements reached to increase our cooperation on counterterrorism, streamlining the transfer of critical defense capabilities to our GCC partners, bolstering GCC ballistic defense ... systems, and defending against the cyber threat," said Rob Malley, a senior adviser to Obama on the Middle East.

"On all of those, I think you'll see progress has been made, there's been much deeper cooperation between us and the GCC," Malley told reporters on a conference call.

Saudi King Salman addressing the Egyptian parliament in Egypt's capital Cairo on April 10, 2016. (AFP)

Obama also wants to speak with King Salman and other leaders struggling with economic issues, given the drop in global oil prices, Malley said.

The US president then will travel to London to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron and to Hanover for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the DAESH terrorist organisation and counterterrorism cooperation, the White House said.

The White House official said that Obama also wants to discuss Afghanistan and Russian aggression in Ukraine with Cameron and Merkel.

TRTWorld and agencies