Obama seeks stronger ties with Gulf states

Riyadh, April 21 (IANS) US President Barack Obama met leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states here on Thursday to mend strained ties and seek more consensus.

The GCC comprises of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The White House said the US-GCC summit would be an opportunity for leaders to discuss issues such as the fight against the IS group, regional conflicts, and sectarian tensions, Xinhua news agency reported.

This is Obama’s fourth visit to the oil-rich Gulf nation since taking office in 2009.

The kingdom is seen as one of Washington’s most important strategic allies in the Middle East, but bilateral relations were strained by the nuclear deal reached with Iran last year.

A day earlier, President Obama met King Salman bin Abdulaziz at Erga Palace in Riyadh.

Obama underscored the importance of accelerating the campaign against the Islamic State (IS) and welcomed Saudi Arabia’s important role in the coalition against the terrorist group, read a White House statement.

The two leaders also discussed regional conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and challenges posed by Iran’s provocative activities.

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