x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Obama and Saudi foreign minister discuss Iran nuclear deal

The White House says the meeting between the US president and Adel Al Jubeir focused on building stronger partnershops and enhancing regional security.

WASHINGTON // US president Barack Obama and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday discussed the Iranian nuclear deal at the White House.

The meeting occurred at the request of Saudi King Salman, who spoke with Mr Obama by phone earlier in the week. Saudi Arabia is among the Gulf nations wary of the nuclear accord.

The White House says the meeting between Mr Obama and foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir focused on building stronger partnerships and enhancing regional security. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is expected to continue those conversations when he visits Saudi Arabia next week.

The talks involved deepening the security cooperation between the US and GCC partners to counter Iran’s destabilisation actions, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Mr Obama and Mr Al Jubeir also discussed the crises in Yemen and Syria.

Mr Earnest characterised the discussion as a “continuation of discussions that took place at Camp David... you’ll recall that the strategic priority that the United States has identified is to not just deepen the bilateral security cooperation that exists between the United States and each individual GCC country, but rather to facilitate better coordination and cooperation among the GCC countries and that there may be equipment and skills and training that the United States can offer that would make those countries more effective in coordinating their security efforts.”

Meanwhile, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told Oman’s Sultan Qaboos that the nuclear deal will boost “security, stability and regional cooperation,” state news agency IRNA reported on Friday.

“Contrary to the opinion of some in the region, this agreement will actually reinforce security, stability and cooperation between neighbours,” Mr Rouhani told the Omani leader in a telephone call.

Mr Rouhani expressed hope that “peace, stability and welfare replace bloodshed in the region”, IRNA said.

Iran has cordial relations with its southern neighbour Oman.

The sultanate has played an important role as a mediator between the Islamic republic and the US.

Oman is also the only Gulf Arab monarchy not taking part in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition waging an air campaign since March against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

IRNA said Sultan Qaboos said he hoped that “with Iran’s aid, we can do something to end crises in the region”.

* With additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Taimur Khan in New York