Obama, Gulf allies meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss security

President Barack Obama speaks to the media after

The president begins a six day trip to strategize.

The absence of King Salman from Obama's welcome reception and the fact that the event was not broadcast live as is customary quickly generated talk of a snub, with global media picking up the tensions and headlines reflecting on how Saudi-US ties have dipped in recent months.

Meanwhile, contrary to Obama's last visit, the president was welcomed at the airport by Prince Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz, the governor of Riyadh, after walking down a red carpet on the stairs of Air Force One, which was considered as a breakaway from the diplomatic protocol traditionally followed by Saudi officials.

Following his meetings with Gulf leaders, Obama planned to depart Saudi Arabia late Thursday for Britain and Germany, the final two stops on his trip.

President Barack Obama has attempted to reassure America's Sunni Gulf allies that the U.S. has not gone "soft" on Iran in the wake of its controversial nuclear weapons deal as he urged regional leaders to redouble their support in the fight against Isis.

Under crystal chandeliers, the Saudi monarch greeted Obama in a grand foyer at Erga Palace, where the two walked slowly to a reception room as the small of incense wafted.

The White House said concerns about inclusive government and improved rights were on his agenda for the visit.

He also urged Gulf countries to work together despite their differences, whether it was dealing with Iran or maintaining a stable, unified government within a country, such as in Iraq.

"None of our nations have an interest in conflict with Iran", Obama said in a brief press conference after meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

U.S. President Barack Obama waves to Saudi officials on arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.

Obama's warning about Iraq appeared meant to pressure its leaders to put internal disputes aside so that a stable government can form.

Other security initiatives resulting from the Riyadh summit include the pairing of elite special operations forces from each of the Gulf partners to work with US trainers and an agreement to conduct joint maritime patrols. He warned that the paralysis is impeding USA -led efforts to defeat the Islamic State group and reconstruct war-damaged Iraq.

Obama, Gulf allies meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss security
Obama, Gulf allies meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss security

Ben Rhodes, a close adviser to Obama, said there were "political steps that can be taken", as Iraq would need assistance to hold on to and rebuild areas reclaimed from IS.

Senior Saudi officials made clear that relations with the U.S. will only improve after President Obama leaves office.

President Obama defended Iran nuclear deal, but voiced "serious concerns" about Iran's behaviour in the region.

"He will find a leadership that's not ready to believe him", Alani said.

Obama said there have been "broad commitments" from the coalition fighting ISIS present at the summit. He says now isn't the time for gridlock.

"On the core issues there's agreement on where we want to go".

A number of victims' families believe that the U.S. holds evidence of tacit Saudi support for Osama bin Laden's attacks on NY and are backing the bill that would allow the Saudi government to be successfully sued in a USA court. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.

The Gulf Arab states were upset by Mr Obama's remarks in a recent magazine article that appeared to cast them as "free-riders" in U.S. security efforts.

Iran's emergence from global isolation following the nuclear deal has anxious the Gulf states, who fear Tehran will be emboldened to seek a still bigger regional role.

"Our nations committed to continue to interdict illegal Iranian arms shipments, impose costs on Iran for its ballistic missile program and oppose Iran's destabilizing activities in the region", he said. Obama said the USA would boost security cooperation to address threats in Libya and support a fledgling United Nations -brokered unity government there. In addition to the Islamic State, the talks are also expected to address the Saudi-led military campaign against Shiite rebels and their allies in neighbouring Yemen.

They are also deeply sceptical of his willingness to negotiate with Iran, especially last year's nuclear deal with the Islamic republic.

"It may be breaking down", Obama said.

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