Iran high on agenda of Obama, Saudi King meeting

Iran high on agenda of Obama, Saudi King meeting

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday, April 20 to meet Saudi Arabia's King Salman ahead of a summit with other Gulf Arab leaders on Thursday and with regional tensions with Iran likely to be high on the agenda, Reuters reports.

Obama comes to the world's top oil exporter for a fourth and likely last time as president hoping to reassure it and other Gulf allies of Washington's commitment to their security, and to seek ways to reduce sectarian tensions in the region.

However, his meetings come in the shadow of disagreements that have further cooled an already strained atmosphere between the old allies ahead of the talks. Unlike in previous visits, Obama's arrival in Riyadh was not aired on live television.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman which are ruled mostly by Sunni Muslim monarchies, with the exception of Oman.

They see Shi'ite Iran as a threat to their security and say its involvement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen has fueled conflict and deepened sectarian divisions.

That tension surfaced again on Wednesday when Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei attacked Riyadh's attempts to isolate its ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, in a series of fiery Tweets.

"Hezbollah is shining in the Muslim world. It doesn't matter if a corrupt, dependent and hollow government with the use of petrodollars condemns it in a statement. To hell with it," he wrote.

The White House shares the view of Gulf Arab states that Tehran plays a destabilizing role, but has said it hopes to bring them and Iran to develop a "cold peace" in which their rivalry does not further inflame smoldering Middle East tensions.

Greeting Obama in an ornate room in a Riyadh palace, King Salman said he was pleased the American president was visiting and Obama thanked him for hosting the summit.

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