Washington:The White House says US President Barack Obama has “cleared the air” with Saudi King Salman during his visit to the Persian Gulf monarchy despite reports of a cool reception in Riyadh.
The White House played down reports that ties with Saudi Arabia have strained over the recent past, saying Wednesday that Obama “really cleared the air” with King Salman at a meeting in the Saudi capital earlier in the day.
However, former Saudi intelligence chief Turki Al Faisal told CNN that there is going to have to be “a recalibration of our relationship with America” over a number of issues.
Saudi relations with the US have reportedly cooled over the US failure to strike the Syrian government, a nuclear agreement between Iran and the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, and the most recent tensions over a US Congress bill that could implicate Saudi officials over the 9/11 attacks in America.
On Thursday, Obama held a summit with regional Arab leaders in Riyadh, aimed at ironing out the strains in their old alliance and forging joint action against Daesh (ISIL) militants, media reports said. This is while reports indicate the terror group rose to infamy in Syria and Iraq on the ticket of the US intelligence community and its regional Arab allies to topple the Syrian government.
Obama’s Saudi allies were upset by his remarks in a magazine interview that appeared to cast them as “free-riders” in US security efforts.
Before the US president left for Riyadh to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, leading rights group Amnesty International wrote a letter, urging him to consider the country’s human rights issues that also include severe crackdown on the Shia population mostly residing in Eastern Province as well as execution of myriads of Saudis apart from the war on Yemen.
Also, representatives for Human Rights Watch and the Campaign Against Arms Trade urged Obama to take action while he is in the kingdom. They said Saudi Arabia uses cluster bombs against civilians during its war on Yemen. The rights groups further demanded that the US and the UK impose a complete arms embargo on Riyadh. Rights groups have in numerous cases provided evidence, showing Saudi forces use cluster bombs during their airstrikes on Yemen’s populated areas. Riyadh, however, denies the allegations.