Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in March

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 3, 2014 

President Obama will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in March to meet with His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in a visit the White House billed as "part of regular consultations between our two countries."

The White House said Obama "looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security."

Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia following his travel to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.

The visit comes as senior officials in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel all have complained about what they view as an American retrenchment after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some leaders already beginning to chart policies more independent of Washington than in the past.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn't say if the trip was aimed at mending fences with the Saudis, saying that "whatever differences we may have do not alter the fact that this is a very important and close partnership."

He said the two would likely discuss the "whole panoply of issues," including the Middle East peace process, security situations across the region and economic issues.

"This is an important meeting between two close partners," Carney said.


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