US President Barack Obama spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the phone on Monday about Gulf leader’s summit to be held this week at Camp David.
“King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia called President Obama today to express his regret at not being able to travel to Washington this week and confirmed he was sending Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to represent the Kingdom,” White House Press Secretary said in a readout of the call.
King Salman announced his decision to not attend the summit on Sunday, as many other Gulf states will also be represented at the ministerial level since the leaders are not attending.
Kuwait and Qatar are the only two Gulf countries to be represented by their ruling monarchs in the summit, while the others are all sending lower-ranking officials.
The US was aiming to use the talks as an opportunity to reassure its support to Arab states in the region and eliminate their concerns about nuclear talks with Iran.
“The President and King Salman reviewed the agenda for the upcoming meetings and agreed on the necessity of working closely, along with other GCC member states, to build a collective capacity to address more effectively the range of threats facing the region and to resolve regional conflicts,” the readout said.
The leaders also “discussed the importance of a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran that verifiably ensures the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
The two leaders also talked about the conflict in Yemen and recently announced humanitarian ceasefire, which is the official reason for the Saudi King’s absence in the summit as the two coincide.
“The President welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement of ceasefire and humanitarian pause in Yemen and both leaders agreed on the need to address the urgent Humanitarian situation in the country,” the press secretary said.
Saudi Arabia has been conducting air strikes against the Iranian backed Houthi fighters in Yemen since March 26.
The two sides agreed to start a five-day ceasefire last Friday citing humanitarian reasons.