Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in March

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Obama was making his first visit to Saudi Arabia. It would be his second visit, the first coming in June 2009.

President Obama will make his second trip to Saudi Arabia in March, the White House announced Monday, in a bid to reassure a key U.S. ally about the administration's policies in the Middle East.

Obama will meet with King Abdullah during the trip, which was tacked on to the end of a three-country tour of Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, where Obama will meet Pope Francis. The Wall Street Journal first reported the trip last week, citing Arab officials who said the relations between the two governments was "deteriorating."

The president's trip comes after Secretary of State John F. Kerry visited Saudi officials in January.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5. (Brendan Smialowski/AP)

Saudi officials have grown concerned about U.S.-led efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran and the White House's reluctance to engage more directly in  Syria's civil war.

Obama and Abdullah will discuss "regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism" and other issues, the White House said in the statement.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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