Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia in March

February 3, 2014  

The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March to meet with King Abdullah, Reuters reports.

The two will discuss a range of security issues in the Middle East that have caused some strains in the bilateral relationship, the report said.

The rare visit, which comes at the end of Obama’s trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, will include discussions about “Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” the White House said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

The two countries recently had a falling out over the Obama administration’s foreign policy, particularly over Syria and Iran.

King Abdullah met Secretary of State John Kerry in November and discussed concerns about the unwillingness of the United State to intervene in Syria and recent overtures to Iran. Obama himself phoned the King that month to discuss bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia turned down a seat on the United Nations Security Council in October, in a display of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria.

The kingdom also voiced criticism over the deal reached between Iran and the West over its nuclear program.

A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took advantage of the tension between the Saudis and the Americans and called Saudi King Abdullah , perhaps signaling a shift towards alignment with the Russians.

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