Obama visits Saudi Arabia, to mend ties

Apr 20, 2016, 6:14 AM EDT
The U.S. President Barack Obama
(Source: Marc Nozell/flickr)

The U.S. President Barack Obama, accompanied by Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, left for Saudi Arabia, where he is scheduled to meet with King Salman in addition to attending a discussion with the leaders of Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) countries. Carter said the visit is aimed at seeking the wealthy kingdom’s military and naval assistance in tackling a hostile Iran in the region.

The strained U.S.-Saudi Arabia ties, which have a long history marked by acrimonious exchanges from both the sides, hit a new low when the U.S. backed lifting of sanctions against Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival in the region, writes the BBC. A pending bill in the U.S., which may authorize Americans to initiate legal proceedings against Saudi Arabia for 9/11 terrorist attacks has further escalated tensions between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia, marred by a state of turmoil in recent times, is reeling under falling oil prices, militancy along the country’s southern border and civil wars in neighboring states, notes The New York Times. Analysts view Obama’s trip as an attempt to improve America’s severed relationship with Saudi Arabia although they remain skeptical of what results it may produce.

While Saudi Arabia would try to negotiate more U.S. assistance for Syrian rebels, America’s emphasis lies on seeking help to combat Islamic State in Iraq, observes USA Today.