April 5, 2012 By

Obama Meets Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah

obama saudiUS President Barack Obama met Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday with the hopes of easing the strained relations between both the countries. Obama last travelled to the country in May 2009 just before his landmark Cairo speech where he laid out his vision for US re-engagement with Muslims and Arabs.

The President stopped by in Riyadh on his tour of Europe. “It’s an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the relationship,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, told reporters on the flight from Rome. The relation between the US and Saudi Arabia have deteriorated in the past few months over the US policy in the Middle East with strong disagreements over the Syrian conflict for the last three years and Obama calling off military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in last September after a chemical weapons attack in Damascus that killed hundreds.

The White House protested on Tuesday expressing its disappointment after the Saudi authorities refused to grant a visa to an American journalist based in Washington working for the Jerusalem Post. The Egyptian court ruling which also came on Tuesday in the Minya province sentencing to death more than 500 Morsi supporters would also add to the tension in Obama’s conversation with King Abdullah about Egypt.

The biggest crisis between the US and its strong ally of many years occurred when Saudi Arabia came to know of US’s secret negotiations with the Iranian officials last year about Iran’s nuclear program that helped pave the way to the interim deal reached at talks in Geneva in November. In protest against Washington’s regional policies, Saudi Arabia declined a seat on the UN Security Council in October, last year, after lobbying for more than a year to get it.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pushed Obama to raise the issue of human and religious rights during his face-to-face meeting with King Abdullah with an appeal from the US Senator Marco Rubio, urging the President to press for the release of the religious prisoners and to “end persecution of individuals charged with apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery.”

Posted in: Uncategorized