Saudi King meets with Kerry ahead of summit

Obama is due to host King Salman in their first White House summit

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman met on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama later today.

The two met at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, adjacent to Washington. Obama is due to host King Salman in their first White House summit on Friday.

VIEW MORE: Iran, Mideast high on King Salman-Obama summit

On Thursday, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry at the headquarters of the U.S. State Department in Washington.

VIEW MORE: Saudi-U.S. summit to discuss regional issues

The meeting came within the framework of continuing consultation and coordination between the two countries on bilateral relations. They discussed the latest developments at regional and international arenas, according to the state-run Saudi News Agency.

VIEW MORE: Al-Jubeir tells Al Arabiya News that the Saudi-U.S summit important in all levels

Speaking to Al Arabiya News channel, Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor, said: “This is an important visit at an important time with the many developments in the region where we have a shared interest with Saudi Arabia and with the recent conclusion of the Iran deal.”

He added: "The nuclear deal is one specific issue. I think that what we’ve always acknowledged is a country like Saudi Arabia, or other Gulf States, other countries in the region, are concerned about what Iran might do with additional sanctions relief. If Iran’s economy improves, are they going to be more belligerent in their activity’s in the neighborhood? And we want assure these countries that even as we are implementing the nuclear deal, we’re going to be able to work cooperatively, to address what we are very concerned about.”

VIEW MORE: U.S. spokesperson: Iran nuclear deal tops agenda as King Salman visits U.S.

When you look at a situation like Yemen, you’ve had Iranian support for the Houthis. If you look in Iraq, we want make sure that any Iranian influence in Iraq does not contribute to splitting the country apart. But rather, we are all pushing in support of the Abadi government and holding the country together.

Ben Rhodes, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor

On Syria, Rhodes told Al Arabiya News Channel that the continuous support for the Assad regime is an "obstacle to the peace and stability the people Syria deserve."

“So, what we’re signaling very strongly is just because we’re doing this nuclear deal does not mean there’s a broader alignment with Iran. The nuclear deal is meant to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we’re going to continue to have differences with many aspects of Iranian policies in the region,” he said. (MORE IN THIS VIDEO)

Al Arabiya’s contributor Patrick W. Ryan said the importance of the symposium is exemplified by the opening panel lineup: Ministers of Finance, Commerce and Industry, and Health and the Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. Both sides are clearly open for business and working hard to expand trade and investment.

Top-level attention

The top-level attention to business ties comes at a time of increasing pressure on economies as the global energy market remains in the doldrums amid over-production and key consumers’ slowdowns.

VIEW MORE: A look at Saudi-U.S. relations

Ben Rhodes said “I wouldn’t suggest that it was going to be foremost on the agenda it will be a routine matter, as it frequently is in these meetings.”

Al Arabiya’s contributor Sigurd Neubauer said the leaders will discuss “steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last Thursday. As well as “ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts.”

READ MORE: King Salman’s Washington visit: What are the regional implications?

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