During a visit aimed at allaying the Saudi kingdom’s concerns that their decades-old alliance is faltering, Obama assured Saudi king Abdullah that he would not agree to a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear program, a senior American official said. During the meeting the two leaders discussed “tactical differences”, and both agreed their strategic interests were aligned. A White House statement after the two hours of talks said Obama had reiterated the significance Washington placed on its “strong” ties with the world’s largest oil exporter. Major powers suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran said its work is aimed only at generating electricity.
The official said the two also discussed Syria, where a three-year-old civil war has killed an estimated 140,000 people and uprooted millions of people.
The White House statement said the two countries were cooperating to address issues including Syria, Iran, combating extremism and supporting Middle East peace talks.
The Washington Post reported that the U.S. was ready to increase covert aid to Syrian rebels under a new plan which included training efforts by the CIA, and was considering supplying MANPADS and the White House has not closed the door to the possibility of such a move in the future, but the senior official said the U.S. remained concerned about providing such weapons to rebels.
The Saudi king was accompanied in the talks by Crown Prince Salman, Prince Muqrin, who was named second-in-line to rule, and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. In attendance with Obama was the new American ambassador in Riyadh, Joseph Westphal, whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate late on Wednesday, apparently in order to let him attend Friday’s meeting.
~Rebel Rebellion III%