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02 December 2023

Obama meets Saudi FM at White House


US President Barack Obama on Tuesday met Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal for talks, as the allies face a nuclear showdown with Iran, a political crisis in Yemen and other key issues.

"The President and Prince Saud affirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia and discussed recent developments on key regional issues of mutual interest," a White House statement said.

Officials refused to divulge further details of the talks, or even say which countries and issues were particularly touched upon.

But Obama did ask Prince Saud to convey his best wishes to Saudi King Abdullah, 87, who has been in poor health and underwent back surgery last year, the White House said.

The United States and Saudi Arabia cooperate closely on all key regional issues, including tensions in the Gulf with Iran which have recently spiked as the West tightens nuclear sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Washington and Saudi Arabia also have a mutual interest in easing instability spawned by violence and a political crisis in Yemen.

The United States was recently reviewing whether to allow Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to land on US soil for medical treatment, though he has reportedly postponed plans for such a trip.

Saudi Arabia has also frequently called on Obama to pressure Israel to return to negotiations on a Palestinian state, but the US administration has been able to forge little progress on the issue.

Obama will return to Middle East diplomacy next week, when he hosts talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday at the White House.