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Obama visit to highlight expanding Saudi role
March 23, 2014, 9:34 am

Saudi Arabia’s growing importance in regional and international affairs, as well as its relations with the US, will come under the spotlight when US President Barack Obama visits the Kingdom on Friday.

The Kingdom is the last leg of the president’s six-day trip, which will include stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.
Obama will hold talks with King Abdullah on a range of key bilateral and regional issues, said Johann Schmonsees, US Embassy spokesman, on Saturday.

“It will be an opportunity to reinforce one of our closest relationships in the region and build on the strong US-Saudi military, security and economic ties that have been a hallmark of our bilateral relationship,” said Johann.

“The two leaders will discuss our ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, including the situation in Iran and Syria, negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, countering violent extremism and other issues of prosperity and security,” he said.

Obama is expected to spend one night in Saudi Arabia before he returns to the US on Saturday.

Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser for Strategic Communications, said the meeting will be “an important opportunity to invest in one of our most important relationships in the Middle East, certainly in the Gulf region, to address a very broad agenda in terms of our ongoing support for Gulf security and for the Syrian opposition.”

Obama, however, has abandoned his plans to hold a US-GCC summit during his stay in the Kingdom.

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