Obama to visit Saudi Arabia for defence talks

US president and defence chief on a two-day trip to the Gulf to talk counterterrorism and regional security threats.

    Barack Obama shakes hands with Saudi King Salman after their meeting in Turkey in November [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
    Barack Obama shakes hands with Saudi King Salman after their meeting in Turkey in November [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

    US President Barack Obama will talk next week with leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries about agreements on counterterrorism and bolstering ballistic missile defence systems, a White House official said on Thursday.

    Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia with his defence chief Ashton Carter to meet King Salman on Wednesday and then attend a summit with other leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Thursday.

    "As you'll hear more coming out of the summit, there have been agreements reached to increase our cooperation on counterterrorism, streamlining the transfer of critical defence capabilities to our GCC partners, bolstering GCC ballistic defence ... systems, and defending against the cyber threat," said Rob Malley, a senior adviser to Obama on the Middle East.

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    "On all of those, I think you'll see progress has been made, there's been much deeper cooperation between us and the GCC," Malley told reporters on a conference call.

    Obama plans to discuss the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, and Iran and regional stability issues, the AP news agency quoted Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, as saying.

    The president also wants to hear about ideas from King Salman and other leaders for dealing with economic issues, given the sharp drop in oil prices, Malley said.

    Obama will then travel to London to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, and to Hanover for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, where ISIL - also known as ISIS - and counterterrorism cooperation also will be on the agenda, the White House said.

    Obama plans to also discuss Afghanistan and Russian moves in Ukraine with Cameron and Merkel, the White House officials said.

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    SOURCE: AP


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