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Obama visit gives fresh impetus to Saudi-US ties

Obama visit gives fresh impetus to Saudi-US ties thumbnail

Iranian nuclear deal, Syria’s three-year-old civil war and their repercussions on the neighboring countries were the central themes of the talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama on Friday.
The two-hour discussions between the king and Obama also focused on key bilateral and regional issues such as Gulf security, the Middle East peace process and Egypt.
During the talks, Obama reiterated the significance of his country’s “strong relationship” with Saudi Arabia, said a White House statement released later in the day.
“Washington and Riyadh are working together to address a number of critical bilateral and regional issues, including resolving the crisis in Syria, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, counterterrorism efforts to combat extremism, and supporting negotiations to achieve Middle East peace,” said the statement.
Obama said his country’s strong relations with Saudi Arabia have “endured for over 80 years.”
The king and Obama discussed ways and means to stop the genocide in Syria. According to an AP report, Obama is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to the Syrian opposition, as Obama sought to reassure the king that the US is not taking a soft stance on Syria and other Mideastern conflicts.
The two leaders met at Khuraim Gardens, an oasis located some 100 km northeast of Riyadh, where King Abdullah has a private farm.
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and defense minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, and Saudi Ambassador to US Adel Al-Jubeir attended the talks.
The US delegation included US Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and newly-appointed US ambassador Joseph Westphal.
A Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Kingdom wants the US to “shift its position” on support for Syrian rebels, particularly Washington’s reluctance to supply them with surface-to-air missiles.
Khidr O. Al-Qurashi, a Shoura Council member, called on Riyadh and Washington to join forces to find solutions to the regional problems.
On whether Obama’s visit to Riyadh came too late, Al-Qurashi said: “Better late than never.”
According to him, the US administration is fully aware that the regional issues cannot be solved without active participation of the Kingdom.
Al-Qurashi expressed optimism that both sides would find solutions not only to the Iranian nuclear issue but also to the Syrian crisis and Lebanese issue.
Referring to the talks with King Abdullah, US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that the issues at the heart of Obama’s meetings with King Abdullah include “Gulf security, Middle East peace, Syria, Iran and Egypt.” He said: “The United States and Saudi Arabia have been working together closely to coordinate their assistance to the (Syrian) rebels.”

Rhodes said that coordination has helped put the US 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.”
Another US official said that the Obama administration was considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels.
Obama’s possible shift would likely be welcomed by Gulf states, which have been pressing the White House to allow the man-portable air-defense systems, known as “manpads,” into Syria.
Rhodes said Obama updated the king on the nuclear talks with Iran. He said Obama made the point that “the negotiations do not mean US concerns about other Iranian activities have lessened, including its support for Assad and Hezbollah, as well as its destabilizing activity in Yemen and the Gulf.”
On the Middle East peace process, the Obama administration 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.
King Abdullah hosted a banquet dinner in honor of Obama at his farm. Upon arrival at the venue, a warm welcome was accorded to the US president. He was received by Crown Prince Salman, Prince Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin, second deputy premier.
President Obama was received on arrival at King Khaled International Airport by Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar; Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, deputy governor of Riyadh; and Ambassador Westphal.

arab news



8 Comments on "Obama visit gives fresh impetus to Saudi-US ties"

  1. Plantagenet on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 2:24 am 

    Leave it to Obama to give anti-aircraft missiles to al Qaida and the other Islamists in Syria. What could possibly go wrong with that?

  2. GregT on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 5:01 am 

    Obama does nothing that his handlers do not tell him to do.

    Anyone that believes that Obama is actually in charge, is living in lala land.

  3. Arthur on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 8:18 am 

    KSA coming to it’s senses again. For the House of Saud to survive, there is no alternative but Washington. Bells for the last round of the US-KSA relationship.

  4. Makati1 on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 10:30 am 

    Arthur, since China buys more Saudi oil than the uS, I think that the tide will turn toward the east. I see Saudi oil being paid for with yuan in the near future.

  5. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 11:52 am 

    Makati, Saudi’s are not going to put all their eggs in one basket like you would. If you ruled KSA you would dump the US dollar out of spite. These rulers are not stupid especially considering how much money they have invested in dollar based investments. It would be like an investor dumping his stock because he hates a company and in the process losing lots of money by damaging the stock price. KSA may have problems with the US and our dysfunctional political policies but they are not bad businessmen. They realize China for what it is just another customer that has something to offer. China is in a death spiral of a debt unwind in any case. The world will soon turn sour on China and its currency. It will still be important but not the new currency of choice replacing the dollar.

  6. rockman on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 2:09 pm 

    The thoughts of NBC last November:

    China became the world’s biggest oil importer just this year, and already buys some crude from Iran and Russia using its own currency, the yuan. But even that is unlikely to be enough to tempt the Saudis away from the dollar and undermine the currency, if only because Saudi Arabia’s so deeply invested in the greenback.

    “Why would the Saudis damage the U.S. dollar by denominating oil sales in another currency? They have major holdings in the U.S. that could only be damaged by dumping the dollar,” Neil Atkinson, head of analysis at Lloyd’s List Intelligence, told CNBC.

    But there’s the other side of the coin: when China buys Saudi oil they pay in US $’s. But then the Saudi’s send them back when the buy Chinese products. Saudi Arabia main imports are: machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical equipment (27 percent of total imports), transport equipment and parts thereof (16 percent), base metals (13 percent), chemicals and related products (9 percent) and vegetables (6 percent). Main import partners are: China (13 percent of total imports), United States (12.6 percent), Germany (7 percent) and Japan (6 percent.

    So the Chinese are “forced” to take US $’s…which many countries that won’t take Yuan will readily accept.

  7. Kenz300 on Sat, 29th Mar 2014 7:53 pm 

    Saudi’s are exporting intolerance financed by oil wealth.

    The sooner we move off fossil fuels the better.

  8. Makati1 on Sun, 30th Mar 2014 1:12 am 

    Davy, China may be having economic problems, but the US is way ahead of them in that area. The difference is that China does not meddle in the politics of the countries it buys from, the US does. I see the swing to the East in most things over the rest of this decade. And it has nothing to do with hate or whatever other tag you want to give me. It is how I see the world from my vantage point and experience. You see it from yours. If they differ, that is life.

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