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Obama hosts Saudi king at WH

4 September 2015 18:24


US President Barack Obama will host Saudi Arabia’s new king at the White House, where he is expected to reassure the monarch of wide-ranging support amid concerns about the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Obama will reportedly tell King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Friday that the agreement with Iran does not mean the US will turn away from its Persian Gulf Arab allies.

The nuclear pact, announced on July 14 between Iran and P5+1 in Vienna, added to concerns in Saudi Arabia that Washington is moving away from its decades-old alliance with Riyadh in favor of a diplomatic thaw with Tehran.

The White House, however, is seizing on the visit to follow up on promises to shore up US-Saudi relations, including big-ticket military sales to the kingdom.

In a speech this week, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington is determined to make sure its Persian Gulf allies have all the support they need.

“We are working with them to develop a ballistic missile defense for the Arabian Peninsula, provide special operations training, authorize urgently required arms transfers, strengthen cyber-security, engage in large-scale military exercises and enhance maritime interdiction of illegal Iranian arms shipments,” Kerry said.

Obama’s meeting with King Salman comes as more Senate Democrats have come out in favor of the nuclear accord with Iran in recent days, handing the White House enough support to preserve the deal in the Republican-dominated Congress.

The administration has secured more than 34 votes Obama needs to sustain a veto of any congressional resolution disapproving the Iran agreement.

White House officials say they expect King Salman to cautiously support the nuclear accord.

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