Obama is preparing to meet with King Abdullah for a summit, the
Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing unnamed Arab
officials briefed on the meetings.
"This is about a deteriorating relationship" and declining trust,
said a senior Arab official in discussing the need for the summit,
which was pulled together in recent days, the newspaper reported.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the
kingdom was formed in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military
protector and Washington secure oil supplies.
Washington's relationship with the Saudis was crucial as the region
faced changes and challenges from the transition in Egypt to civil
war in Syria.
But relations have been tested on a number of fronts.
Members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family threatened a rift with the
United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's
civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 people, as well as the
recent U.S. outreach with Iran.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom's regional rivalry with Shi'ite Iran, an
ally of Syria, has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle
King Abdullah is also to use the meeting to question Obama on why he
decided against airstrikes in Syria, which Saudi and other Arab
officials believe strengthened Assad, the newspaper reported.
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"The meeting in many ways will get back to basics," said a Saudi
official briefed on the meetings, according the Wall Street Journal.
"Why did Obama do it the way he did it?"
U.S. and other security officials said earlier this week that
"moderate" Syrian rebel factions were receiving light arms supplied
by the United States.
The Arab Spring as well as a November agreement between Iran and
other world powers that curbs parts of Tehran's nuclear program, has
angered Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab states and Israel.
The relationship was also badly shaken by the September 11, 2001,
attacks on the United States, since most of the hijackers were Saudi
nationals, and by the subsequent American invasion of Iraq.
Obama's visit comes after a mission to Riyadh by U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington;
writing by Eric M.
Johnson in Seattle; editing by Ken Wills)
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