U.S. President Barack Obama hosted Saudi Arabia’s foreign affairs minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss key issues related to the Middle East, the White House said.
“The president and Prince Saud affirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia and discussed recent developments on key regional issues of mutual interest,” it said in a statement. The meeting was not previously announced by the White House, according to Reuters.
The meeting comes as the allies face a nuclear showdown with Iran, a political crisis in Yemen and other key issues.
Officials refused to divulge further details of the talks, or even say which countries and issues were particularly touched upon.
But Obama did ask Prince Saud to convey his best wishes to Saudi King Abdullah, 87, who has been in poor health and underwent back surgery last year, the White House said, according to AFP.
Prince al-Faisal also held talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that dealt with several regional issues, Al Arabiya reported.
The United States and Saudi Arabia cooperate closely on all key regional issues, including tensions in the Gulf with Iran which have recently spiked as the West tightens nuclear sanctions on the Islamic republic.
Washington and Saudi Arabia also have a mutual interest in easing instability spawned by violence and a political crisis in Yemen.
The United States was recently reviewing whether to allow Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to land on U.S. soil for medical treatment, though he has reportedly postponed plans for such a trip.
Saudi Arabia has also frequently called on Obama to pressure Israel to return to negotiations on a Palestinian state, but the U.S. administration has been able to forge little progress on the issue.
Obama will return to Middle East diplomacy next week, when he hosts talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday at the White House.