Obama seeks to reassure Gulf allies on Iran, security at summit

15 May, 2015 1:20 am

CAMP DAVID – President Barack Obama opened a summit with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies on Thursday, seeking to convince them of Washington’s commitment to their security despite deep concern among Arab leaders about US efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran.

Hosting the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council for a rare summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, Obama faced the challenge of allaying their fears of U.S. disengagement at a time of Middle East upheaval while also pressing the oil-rich Gulf states to work together in their own defense.

Tension over U.S. policy toward Tehran, Syria’s civil war and the Arab Spring uprisings will loom over the meetings, which have already been clouded by the absence of most of the

Gulf’s ruling monarchs, who instead sent lower-level officials.

Saudi King Salman pulled out, sending Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his place in a move widely interpreted as a snub that reflected Gulf frustration with the Obama administration.

The White House has said such decisions were not intended as slights and has portrayed the summit as more than just a symbolic event. But U.S. officials have also played down the prospects for any major breakthroughs.

White House officials have said there would no formal defense treaty, as some Gulf leaders sought, and that the summit is likely to produce more modest announcements on integrating ballistic missile defense systems, easing weapons deliveries and increasing joint military exercises. –Reuters

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