US downplays Arab leaders’ refusal to meet with Obama

US downplays Arab leaders’ refusal to meet with Obama

HomeUSPolitics Mon May 11, 2015 10:52PM

The United States has downplayed refusal of several Arab leaders to meet with President Barack Obama, rejecting the decision as a snub to Washington.

Four Arab leaders called off their meeting with Obama this week.

Leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait were set to travel to the US for a meeting at the White House on May 13 and at Camp David, Maryland, on May 14.

However, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait would be present at the meeting and the other countries would send their deputies.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that the countries are sending “the right people” to “deepen and modernize the important security relationship” between Washington and its allies in the Persian Gulf.

“The countries who are participating in the meeting have obviously made decisions about who they believe is best positioned to represent their countries at the meeting,” Earnest said.

He added that if the Saudi government was trying to send a message via the king’s absence, it was not received.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf also rejected the notion this was a “snub.”

Saudi King Salman would send Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the defense minister.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the king’s no-show has nothing to do with any disagreement between Riyadh and Washington.

“We have no doubt whatsoever about America’s commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Some observers believe King Salman’s decision was aimed at showing his opposition to a possible US nuclear deal with Iran.

Meanwhile, US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said on Monday that “the exact right people” are around the table to discuss regional issues.

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