President Barack Obama and the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia yesterday discussed ways to support Iraqis in their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants and the importance of a political transition in war-torn Syria, the White House said.
Obama met with Mohamed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, in the Oval office for about an hour.
The deputy crown prince is visiting the United States to promote a plan, known as Vision 2030, to slash the kingdom’s dependence on oil exports.
“The president expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s contributions to the campaign against ISIL,” the White House said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
The two talked about steps to support Iraqis “including increased Gulf support to fund urgent humanitarian and stabilisation needs”, the White House said.
Obama welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a political settlement of the Yemen conflict and support by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) to address humanitarian needs and rebuild Yemen, the White House said.
On Syria, Obama and the prince talked about the importance of supporting a political transition away from President Bashar al-Assad, the White House said.
The United States is working with international partners on what it calls a Syrian-led transition process facilitated by the United Nations, but so far there has been little progress.
More than 50 diplomats at the US State Department signed a memo, leaked on Thursday, that was critical of the Obama administration’s Syria policy and called for targeted military strikes against Assad’s government.
Asked about the memo, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who was also in Washington yesterday, told reporters the kingdom had been arguing for a “more robust intervention” including airstrikes, a no-fly zone, and a no-drive zone, from the beginning of the five-year civil war.
Al-Jubeir said the deputy crown prince had briefed US officials on his plan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and to move to cleaner forms of energy.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesman has said Prince Mohamed bin Salman has requested a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Mohamed bin Salman is expected to be in New York next week for meetings with business leaders after a visit to the US West Coast and has requested a meeting towards the end of the week, UN officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“An official request has come to the office of the secretary-general for a meeting with the deputy crown prince and as soon as we’re able to confirm something we shall,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
He added that the UN had not yet responded to a June 8 letter to Ban from Saudi UN ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen asking the United Nations to reveal details on the sources of information for its report on violations of child rights during armed conflicts.
Related Story