Saudi-US Relations in Transition

2014

Mar 28-29 — US President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia for meetings with King Abdullah and senior officials. [See SUSRIS Special Section – President Obama’s March 2014 Visit to Saudi Arabia]

Mar 11 — US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in Riyadh, leading American Trade Mission to the Gulf:

“And in just a few weeks, President Obama will make his second visit here, underscoring – just as FDR did – our close ties to the Kingdom. We are – of course – key strategic allies, and our security relationship remains crucial. In fact, Saudi Arabia recently purchased 72 F-15s – the largest purchase of its kind in history. Our two nations are strongly committed to preserving stability throughout the Gulf, and while we acknowledge that even close friends may sometimes disagree, that will never shake the foundation of our friendship.” REF: SUSRIS.com

Mar 5 — Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain recall ambassadors from Qatar, issue statement. REF: SUSRIS.com

Feb 24 — Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ford Fraker tells SUSRIS:

I think the recent announcements out of Riyadh — assuming that they are happening and I think they probably are — sets a positive tone for the President’s visit. Following the visit you’ll hear warmer statements about the two countries working more closely together on regional problems, Syria in particular, but also Iraq and Yemen.

I expect it will be upbeat and positive. I wasn’t so sure that was going to be the case a few weeks ago. I thought it might be more of a pro forma visit. But I think recent steps will put a more positive framework on it.

[SUSRIS] Is it fair to say that the early headline of this being a fence-mending trip is less the case and it’s now two partners moving forward together?

[Fraker] I think it’s a bit of both. I still think it’s a bit of both.

REF: SUSRIS.com

Feb 19 — Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at CSIS, “A Renewed Agenda for US-Gulf Partnership” – major US policy address.

“The United States and the Gulf states are distant neighbors. We have different histories. We come from different traditions. And we will, inevitably, continue to have differences of opinion. But we can, and we must, find common ground and build a common agenda to help shape our shared future. We have a deep stake in each other’s security. We have a deep stake in ending the conflicts that allow extremists to feed on the region’s bitterness and alienation. And we have a deep stake in demonstrating that reform and stability can co-exist. The agenda I laid out today is undoubtedly ambitious. And the obstacles are undoubtedly formidable. But I remain optimistic that much is possible in the years ahead for a renewed U.S.-Gulf partnership.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Feb 18 — NYTimes article highlights “Changing U.S. Role in Middle East” marked by return of Robert Malley as a senior director at the National Security Council.

“..he will manage the fraying ties between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf, a job that says a lot about how America’s role in the Middle East has changed.” 

REF: NYTimes

Feb 18 – Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Prince Mohammed visit and US-Saudi relations:

The spymasters’ conclave featured Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, [see Feb 9-15] Saudi Arabia’s minister of the interior, who will now supervise the kingdom’s leading role in the covert-action program. He replaces Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, who has been suffering from a back ailment and whose leadership of the program was seen as uneven..

..Underlying these tactical changes is the fact that Saudi Arabia and the United States are working together again on Syria policy after a year of increasingly bitter disagreement. The revived U.S.-Saudi alliance won’t topple Assad, but it will reduce what had become a dangerous regional feud.

REF: WPost

Feb 9-15 Prince Mohammed bin Naif, Minister of Interior on visit to Washington for meetings with senior USG officials. REF: SUSRIS.com

Feb 3 — White House announces President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah in March.

“The President looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Jan 5 — Secretary Kerry in Saudi Arabia for meeting with King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal who said:

“I would like praise the strong relations between the two friendly countries. The three-hour meeting was distinctive and smooth, and this refutes all analyses and comments that had addressed the Saudi-US relations recently, to the extent that they described these relations as deteriorating.. ..no meeting that could have been smoother and more productive than this meeting.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

2013

Dec 17 — Saudi Ambassador to UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf’s New York Times op-ed, titled, “Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone” —

“We believe that many of the West’s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East. This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by.” .. “Saudi Arabia has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs: more determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs.”

REF: NYTimes REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec 12 — UN report concluded CW used against civilians in Syria in August.

REF: CNN.com

Dec 12 — Prince Turki Al-Faisal tells SUSRIS people in the Gulf are anxious about US-Iranian talks:

“..within the framework of an issue that falls very much in the interests of not just Saudi Arabia but the other Gulf States interests – I think that was the wrong tactic to take. Not only did it keep the people who are immediately affected out of the picture, whether deliberately or otherwise I don’t know, but it also leaves much to question as to how the next stage is going to be handled.”

[SUSRIS] Is this new Saudi assertiveness related to the perception that American commitment in the Middle East is waning?

[Prince Turki] Well, indeed. And it is not just the American commitment. We are seeing Europe also sitting back, for example, on the issue of Syria.. ..So the fact that people are seeing a more assertive Saudi Arabia today is because the Kingdom is more recognized in the world community not just as a doer, but as someone who initiates issues.”

“The fact that we can say these things to each other, even in public, is a sign of the strength of the relationship.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec 9 — Defense Secretary Hagel in Riyadh for meeting with Crown Prince (Defense Minister) Prince Salman.

“Secretary Hagel and the Crown Prince, who serves as the Minister of Defense, agreed that the United States and Saudi Arabia are firmly committed to their strong defense relationship and discussed the mutual goal of achieving security and stability in the region.. ..Secretary Hagel conveyed that the United States is fully committed to its security partnership with Saudi Arabia and seeks to deepen its cooperation even further.” They agreed to a US-Gulf defense ministers meeting within six months.

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec 7 — Defense Secretary Hagel at Manama Dialogue calls for annual US-GCC Defense Ministerial to complement US-GCC Strategic Dialogue.

“For nearly seven decades, America has lived up to its commitments to the security of our allies and partners in this region.. ..today, as America emerges from a long period of war, it will not shirk its responsibilities. America’s commitment to this region is proven and it is enduring.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec 3 — Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Moscow for meeting with President Putin.

REF: AlArabiya

Nov 25 — Saudi Cabinet statement on P5+1/Iran interim nuclear agreement:

“The Kingdom viewed the agreement as a primary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear program. As far as good intentions are provided and as long as it concludes to a Middle East and gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. Hoping that such a step will be followed by more important steps leading to guarantee the right for all countries in the region to peacefully use nuclear energy.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Nov 24 — President Obama statement on P5+1/Iran interim nuclear agreement:

“..Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon..”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Nov 23 — P5+1 and Iran reach interim nuclear agreement in Geneva.

REF: SUSRIS.com

Nov 13 — Former ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith described “rift” at a Washington symposium:

“There is no question that there’s a lot of pent up frustration in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region for what they perceive as the West’s inability or unwillingness to deal with the issues of the day.”

“Most of what you’ve seen over the last few weeks is what I call a race to hyperbole, where the U.S.-Saudi relationship is easily depicted that it’s all falling apart and we’re going to lose our place to Russia or China, or on the other hand they’ll get over it. Those two extremes and I would argue that neither one of those are true, it is somewhere in the middle.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Nov 4 — Secretary Kerry meets King Abdullah and Prince Saud AlFaisal in KSA.

Saud AlFaisal tells press: “I’d like to take this opportunity to address the recent media reports about Saudi-U.S. relations, which went so far as to describe them as dramatically deteriorating. The fact of the matter is that the historic relationship between the two countries has always been based on independence, mutual respect, common interest, and constructive cooperation on regional and international issues to serve global peace and security. A true relationship between friends is based on sincerity, candor, and frankness rather than mere courtesy. Within this perspective, it’s only natural that our policies and views might see agreement in some areas and disagreement in others. That’s perfectly normal in any serious relationship that spans a wide range of issues.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Secretary Kerry: “Saudi Arabia and the United States have an incredible deep relationship. It goes way beyond one or two countries and one or two efforts.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Oct 24 — Nawaf Obaid Washington Post op-ed, “Saudi Arabia Gets Tough on Foreign Policy

“This unprecedented decision [UNSC seat rejection] also signals the coming of age of Saudi Arabia’s forceful foreign policy and the methods it is willing to pursue to achieve its objectives.. ..the Saudis find themselves in a drastically different foreign policy situation than even one year ago, having essentially been left alone to maintain stability in the Arab world. Given the pressure of this predicament, the fundamental basis of the new Saudi foreign policy doctrine is about changing course from being protected by others to protecting themselves and their allies. The Saudis know they need to restructure their foreign policy and national security establishments to conduct themselves internationally on par with the political, economic and religious significance and influence the kingdom holds.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Oct 22 — State Department Briefing

Q. Do you consider the statements by Prince Bandar to be sort of out of the mainstream of Saudi royal family?

Spokesman: I’m not going to characterize. Prince Bandar can speak for himself and can address his own comments. I don’t think I need to speak for him here. But what I will say is the Saudis are a key partner on the most important challenges we face in the Middle East today.

REF: SUSRIS.com

Oct 21 — Secretary Kerry/Prince Saud AlFaisal meet in Paris.

REF: WSJ.com

Described by State Dept.: “..the Secretary had an over two-hour meeting with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, where it was a good, productive meeting.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

Oct 19-20 — Major shift

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Director of Intelligence, sends message to US through “European diplomats”: Saudi turn down of UNSC seat “was message for the U.S., not the U.N.” Expressed frustration with Obama Administration policy on Syria – failure to act after August CW event.

REF: WSJ.com

Oct 18 — KSA declines UNSC seat.

Foreign Ministry (via SPA) statement: “Accordingly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, based on its historical responsibilities towards its people, Arab and Islamic nations as well as towards the peoples aspiring for peace and stability all over the world, announces its apology for not accepting membership of the Security Council until the Council is reformed and enabled, effectively and practically, to carry out its duties and responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security.” Cites: UNSC “double standards,” 65 years without just and lasting Palestinian solution, failure to achieve Middle East WMD free zone, and allowing Syria to “kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons, while the world stands idly by.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Oct 17 — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia elected to a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Saudi Ambassador to UN Al-Mouallimi said, “This membership defines the absolute commitment of Saudi Arabia towards peace in the World and security in its land. ‘It is a defining moment in the Kingdom’s history. As one of the first founding members of the United Nations, our election is much to rejoice over. We welcome the positive shift as well as challenges of being part of the Security Council body.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Sep 22 — Secretary Kerry bilateral meetings with foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and President of Jordan in New York.

REF: SUSRIS.com

Sep 16 — Jamal Khashoggi, Nawaf Obaid CNN.com op-ed, “Syria Tragedy a Turning Point for the West”

“The quagmire has brought to the fore the new reality that the United States and its European allies no longer have the political and economic stomach to openly engage their militaries in another regional conflict.. ..the burden of managing the political, economic and financial chaos of the regional consequences falls on the Saudi-led GCC.”  

REF: SUSRIS.com

Sep 14 — Secretary Kerry announced U.S. and Russia agreed on a framework for impounding and destroying Syria’s CW stockpile by the middle of 2014.

REF: LATimes

Sep 9 — Jamal KhashoggiNawaf Obaid New York Times op-ed, “The Arab D-Day”:

“The United States and its European allies appear unable or unwilling to intervene effectively and forcefully in Syria. Therefore it is time to consider a military solution under the auspices of the Arab League.. ..the Arab League should assemble an Arab army of 75,000 to 100,000 men to take up positions along Jordan’s border with Syria — a potential staging ground for an invasion.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Sep 9 — Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov statement.

“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.. .. We have passed our offer to [Syrian Foreign Minister] Walid al-Muallem and hope to receive a fast and positive answer..”

REF: RT.com

Sep 9 — Secretary Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Hague in London press conference.

Q. ..And secondly, is there anything at this point that his [Assad’s] government could do or offer that would stop an attack?

Secretary Kerry: Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.

REF: StateDept

Sep 4 — President Obama, Press Conference, Stockholm, Sweden

Q: Is a strike needed in order to preserve your credibility for when you set these sort of red lines?

President Obama: ..First of all, I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line.  The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.  Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.  Congress set a red line when it indicated that — in a piece of legislation titled the Syria Accountability Act — that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for. And so when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of the chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up.  I didn’t pluck it out of thin air.  There’s a reason for it..

REF: White House

Aug 30 — Secretary Kerry Statement on Syria

“We also know that we have a President who does what he says that he will do.. ..The President has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be a limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable. And ultimately, ultimately, we are committed – we remain committed, we believe it’s the primary objective – is to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation, because we know there is no ultimate military solution. It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table, and we are deeply committed to getting there.”

REF: StateDept

Aug 21 — CW used in Syria

Chemical weapons, believed to be sarin nerve agent, used in the Ghouta area of Damascus. Death toll at 1429, at least 426 children (State Dept), and 3,600 patients treated for “neurotoxic symptoms” (355 of those died).

REF: BBC.com

Aug 4 — Hassan Rouhani becomes President of Iran

July — Prince Bandar in Moscow for meeting with President Putin on Syria and Iran.

REF: Al-Monitor

Jul 12 — President Obama and King Abdullah confer by phone.

“The President and the King shared their perspectives on the situation in Syria and expressed their strong concerns about the impact of the conflict on the region. The President emphasized the United States’ continued commitment to provide support to the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Supreme Military Council to strengthen the opposition. The President and King also exchanged views on recent developments in Egypt. They agreed that the United States and Saudi Arabia have a shared interest in supporting Egypt’s stability.. ..The leaders pledged to continue close consultations between their two governments.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Jun 25 — Secretary Kerry in meeting with Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Jeddah at which Kerry said:

“Saudi Arabia is one of our closest partners, and we are grateful for that. We work together on a host of key issues in the region, including the most important one of protecting stability for all of the countries in the region. And the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is critical, I think, to both of our countries.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Jun 18 — Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz named Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Jun 14 — Iran holds Presidential election – Hassan Rouhani victor.

May 23 — President Obama delivers major address on counter terrorism at Ft. McNair, Washington, DC

“So the next element of our strategy involves addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism — from North Africa to South Asia.  As we’ve learned this past decade, this is a vast and complex undertaking.  We must be humble in our expectation that we can quickly resolve deep-rooted problems like poverty and sectarian hatred.  Moreover, no two countries are alike, and some will undergo chaotic change before things get better.  But our security and our values demand that we make the effort.

“This means patiently supporting transitions to democracy in places like Egypt and Tunisia and Libya — because the peaceful realization of individual aspirations will serve as a rebuke to violent extremists.  We must strengthen the opposition in Syria, while isolating extremist elements — because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism.  We are actively working to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians — because it is right and because such a peace could help reshape attitudes in the region.  And we must help countries modernize economies, upgrade education, and encourage entrepreneurship — because American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with people’s hopes, and not simply their fears.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

2012

Sep 13 — Saudi Minister of Commerce Abdullah Alireza at NYC “C3 Symposium”:

“Saudi Arabia and the US have a longstanding relationship that has deepened with our common desire for greater cooperation in all sectors. This cooperation will become even stronger at this time as the US is undergoing a disappointing economic recovery since the financial crisis in 2009, but I am sure that our collaboration will overcome these difficulties. I assure you, Saudi Arabia stands with its friends in good times and bad times..”

“..I believe a new era has been paved by two great leaders of vision, President Obama and King Abdullah. Remarkably both leaders share a common path and in their own way they have embarked on a campaign toward achieving greater harmony in the global arena. President Obama’s message of renewal and collaboration with the Arab and Muslim world and especially Saudi Arabia has left a very positive imprint.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Aug 20 — President Obama remarks to the press corps:

THE PRESIDENT:  ..I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation.  But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical.  That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel.  It concerns us.  We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.

We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus.  That would change my equation.

Q    So you’re confident it’s somehow under — it’s safe?

THE PRESIDENT:  In a situation this volatile, I wouldn’t say that I am absolutely confident.  What I’m saying is we’re monitoring that situation very carefully.  We have put together a range of contingency plans.  We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.  That would change my calculations significantly.

REF: White House 

Jul 19 — Prince Bandar bin Sultan named director of Saudi intelligence.

REF: Al-Arabiya

2011

Dec 8 — Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Atlantic, in an interview with SUSRIS at the 2nd US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum, Atlanta:

“The geostrategic picture, however, has gotten so bad that there are doubts by some Saudi leaders about the solvency of the political leadership in the United States over what is the great grand plan. They want to know what is the American strategy. They see it as somewhat reactive, somewhat stuck in a box in the corner with very little leadership exhibited. And you know Saudi Arabia exists in a complicated neighborhood with a lot of tempest and torment with Iran, with Israel, with the Arab spring. There is great uncertainty about the political equities that the United States is willing to stand by and defend or what is its vision is of the future.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec 6 — Distinguished Saudi business woman Lubna Olayan, CEO Olayan Financing, Keynote at the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum, Atlanta:

“In Riyadh, as well as the Arab street, the U.S. has lost credibility, especially in relation to what has been and remains a central issue of concern, the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The broader interests of our two countries will be well served if business leaders from both countries made every effort they can to ensure there is some sense of balance, both in word and deed to the U.S. position on that central issue. But there has been perhaps no greater test of our relationship than 9/11 and for a period it looked as though the relationship was damaged beyond repair. But thankfully it was not. It rebounded. A testament to the strength to the long term relationship and shared values that bind our countries together, and to the persistent efforts of several officials, educators and businessmen from both our countries.”

“As in any successful relationship it has always been a two-way street that works to our mutual benefit.”

“This makes me optimistic about the future of our two countries and confident that despite all that is going on around us, and all the challenges that we face, we are two countries that will continue to build on the cooperation of the last 80 years and further strengthen the ties that bind us.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec — Gregory Gause in his book “Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East”:

“Saudi Arabia and the United States still have common interests on a number of issues, but the idea that they would automatically be on the same side in an international crisis (an exaggeration even at the time) ended with the Cold War. U.S. policymakers need to put aside the idea that they can go to the Saudis for help with issues as they arise and expect them to respond positively simply because the request is coming from Washington. Now the relationship is better characterized as transactional, each side seeking specific benefits from the other through cooperation on various issues, but with no assumption that they will line up together on the next issue that comes up.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Dec — Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations writing in the Foreword to Gregory Gause’s book, “Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East.”

“There have been few relationships more important to the United States than that with Saudi Arabia, and it is vital that, as it enters a new phase, the expectations and priorities of both countries are clear.”

“..the relationship is now more transactional than automatically cooperative.”

“In this new atmosphere, Washington needs to be clear about its priorities if it wants to get anything done with Riyadh .. the two countries can no longer expect to act in close concert under such conditions.” 

REF: SUSRIS.com

2010

Jun 30 — White House hosts King Abdullah following Toronto G-20 meeting.

President Obama: “I always value His Majesty’s wisdom and insights, and we have had a very productive session speaking about a whole range of issues that relate to both relations between our two countries but also issues of prosperity and security around the globe.”

King Abdullah: “Over the past seven decades, the relationship has grown stronger and broader and deeper, and we appreciate all that you personally have done to further broaden and deepen and strengthen this relationship. And I hope that you will be able to continue to work with us on improving this relationship for many more years.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

2009

Jun 4 — “A New Beginning” — President Obama Delivers “Cairo Speech”

“The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Jun 3 — President Obama and King Abdullah meet at King’s Royal Farm

President Obama: “Obviously the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of friendship, we have a strategic relationship. And as I take this trip and we’ll be visiting Cairo tomorrow, I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek His Majesty’s counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East.”

King Abdullah: “I thank you, Mr. President, for the kind words and the kind sentiments expressed within them. I am not surprised, given the historic and strategic ties between our two countries, I believe that go back to the time of the meeting between the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the late King Abdul-Aziz. I also want to express my best wishes to the friendly American people who are represented by a distinguished man who deserves to be in this position.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

May 29 — White House Press Briefing Addresses Saudi Visit, Cairo Speech

[Answer/Denis McDonough] “You obviously covered a range of issues and it underscore the importance of the trip. Obviously — and this underscores the reason I think the President is eager to change the conversation with our Muslim and Arab friends. We have a range of issues — you named several of them — Iran, proliferation, Afghanistan, Pakistan, obviously Israeli-Palestinian, have got key elections coming up throughout the region. So it’s an important time, it’s an important issue. I think the President believes it’s an important opportunity to advance the national interest.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Apr 6 — President Barack Obama’s Ankara Address – Turkish Grand National Assembly

“I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Apr 2 — President Obama met with King Abdullah in London (G20 Summit).

“The leaders reaffirmed the long-standing, strong relationship between the two countries. They discussed international cooperation regarding the global economy, regional political and security issues, and cooperation against terrorism. The President reiterated his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s leadership in promoting the Arab Peace Initiative. He and King Abdullah agreed to continue close consultations on a range of bilateral and regional issues.”

REF: WhiteHouse

Jan 27 — President Obama interview with Hisham Melham, Al Arabiya – “Ready to Initiate a New Partnership and a Hand of Friendship.”

“..all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues –and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen.”

“Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.. ..I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage.. ..to put forward something that is as significant as that. I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace. I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what’s happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“..to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”

REF: SUSRIS.com

Jan 20 — Barack Obama inaugurated as 44th President of the United States.

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