The Washington Post

Iran is Topic A as Obama meets with Saudi King Abdullah


At a tense time in U.S.-Saudi relations over how to handle Iran and Syria, President Obama met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in his desert camp outside of Riyadh Friday, seeking to reassure him that the relationship is on solid ground despite some 'tactical differences' in recent months. It was Obama's third meeting with King Abdullah in the last six years..

The White House's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, told reporters aboard Air Force One on the flight to Saudi Arabia  that the trip was  "an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the relationship, to talk about Gulf security, Syria, Iran, Middle East peace, and other regional developments -- in Egypt, for instance."

The Saudi king’s main concerns were said to be the threat of Iran's nuclear program and Iran's backing  of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.

On Syria, Rhodes said a main topic of the meeting was how to best empower the opposition militarily and politically, but "there's not a specific announcement forthcoming around additional assistance," according to pool reports. In recent months, the United States and Saudis have tried to improve coordination on that front, he said. "We believe we've made good progress" in improving coordination about "who we're providing assistance to and what types of assistance we're providing."

Rhodes said that coordination has helped put the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia “in a stronger place today than it was in the fall when we had some tactical differences about our Syria policy.” Saudi officials had hoped for a U.S. military strike against Syria, and were angry that Obama instead backed a plan to strip Syrian President Bashar Assad of his chemical weapons.

On Iran, Rhodes said Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make it clear that, even as the United States pursues a nuclear deal, concerns about Iran's behavior in the region "remain constant." "We're going to keep the pressure on all those other issues."

Also on Friday, in separate developments, Kerry sought to keep peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians from falling apart over Israel’s refusal to free about two dozen Palestinian prisoners, who were scheduled to be released Saturday.

“The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide with its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for tomorrow,” Palestinian spokesman Jibril Rajub told the AFP news agency.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Juliet Eilperin · March 28, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.