Obama to meet Saudi Arabian King next week

Saudi Arabian King to meet US president in September

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

President Barack Obama meets new Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh - Archive

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to travel to the US and meet President Barack Obama at the White House on September 4, the White House said.

This will be King Salman's first visit to the US since assuming the throne in January. Washington and Riyadh have consistently cemented strategic relations after the long sought Iran nuclear deal.

"His visit underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday, adding that the talks would be aimed at strengthening ties.

The two leaders will discuss Syria, Yemen and "steps to counter Iran's destabilising activities in the region," Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.

King Salman had skipped the US summit of Gulf Arab leaders that Obama hosted in May.

The trip comes less than two weeks before the US congressional vote on the historical nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran, the deal calls for curbing Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Saudi Arabia is participating in the US-led coalition against ISIS, the militant group that has seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter visited the Kingdom last July after the deal. Along with his Saudi counterparts, they discussed training special forces, cyber security, anti-missile defense and freedom of navigation in the strategic Red Sea and Gulf waterways, an American defense official said.

Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia is a traditional rival of Shiite-dominated Iran, The kingdom is worried Tehran could still be able to develop an atomic bomb despite the limitations imposed by the deal.

Riyadh and its Gulf neighbours are also constantly denouncing Tehran’s "interference" in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been the leader of a military campaign that is battling the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen since last March, in efforts to reinstate President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is in self imposed exile in Riyadh.

The US is providing limited logistical and intelligence support for a Saudi-led coalition conducting an air assault against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

TRTWorld and agencies