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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama tries to mend rift with Saudis

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Syria,PennAve,Military Budget,Middle East,Bashar Assad,Foreign Policy,Saudi Arabia

President Obama met with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh Friday, the last stop on his weeklong foreign trip as he tried to cool tensions with a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

"The United States and Saudi Arabia are working together to address a number of critical bilateral and regional issues, including resolving the crisis in Syria, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, counterterrorism efforts to combat extremism and supporting negotiations to achieve Middle East peace," the White House said in a statement.

The meeting, though, comes amid a growing rift between the Saudis and the Obama administration over a number of flashpoints, from Iranian nuclear talks to the Syrian civil war and the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process.

The White House also said the leaders discussed defense cooperation, counterterrorism, trade, energy, and education, among other topics.

Saudi Arabia has been pressing the administration to provide more military aid to the Syrian opposition.

However, a White House official earlier Friday said no specific announcement on assistance was forthcoming during the last leg of Obama's overseas trip.

The administration is said to be weighing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels, according to reports.

The White House has long been accused of not doing enough to end the bloodshed in the Syrian civil war, and critics contend that strongman Bashar Assad's grip on power there is unlikely to weaken anytime soon.

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