Obama arrives in Saudi to mend relations

Published April 20th, 2016 - 12:57 GMT
Obama's visit comes amid strained relations between Washington and its decades-old ally, Riyadh.
Obama's visit comes amid strained relations between Washington and its decades-old ally, Riyadh.

US President Barack Obama arrived Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh for talks with allied Gulf monarchs alienated by Washington's recent rapprochement towards their regional rival Iran.

Air Force One landed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh for his final visit to Saudi Arabia before his presidential term ends in January.

He is to hold a one-on-one meeting with Saudi King Salman on the first day of the two-day visit.

On Thursday, Obama will attend a summit with leaders of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.

Their talks are expected to be dominated by defence and the US-led war on the Daesh militia.

Obama's visit comes amid strained relations between Washington and its decades-old ally, Riyadh.

The US support for the lifting of sanctions against Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, has caused tensions between the oil-rich kingdom and Washington.

Saudi Arabia also remains frustrated over Obama's decision to back down from airstrikes against Iran's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held area of Damascus in 2013 that killed hundreds, observers say.

Washington has meanwhile been critical of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia's human rights record, expressing concerns over the execution of dissidents including influential Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January.

Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia is part of a goodbye international tour. He will also visit Britain and Germany.


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