Barack Obama to meet powerful Saudi official and member of royal family

Pair will discuss tensions in Middle East and trouble posed by Islamic State

Peter Yeung
Friday 17 June 2016 12:20 BST
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President Obama is giving his Saudi guest wide access to his administration
President Obama is giving his Saudi guest wide access to his administration (Getty Images)

President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the White House has said.

Mr Obama is expected to discuss tensions in the Middle East, in particular the trouble posed by Islamic State and potential ways to tackle it.

Prince bin Salman, the son of King Salman, who has been described as the most dangerous man in the world, will join the President at his home as part of a visit to the United States aimed at improving relations with Washington and to put plans into motion to reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenues.

Eric Schultz, a spokesperson for the White House, said the meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss issues including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and "our cooperation with the Saudis in the campaign against ISIL".

The US has expressed unease about the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has resulted in large-scale civilian casualties, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Prince bin Salman, whose influence in Saudi governing councils appears to be growing rapidly, is being given wide access to Mr Obama's administration.

He met with Mr Obama's National Economic Council at the White House on Thursday afternoon to discuss the plan the prince is championing to transform the Saudi economy by 2030.

The White House said in a statement after the meeting: "US officials welcomed Saudi Arabia's commitment to economic reform and underscored the United States' desire to be a key partner in helping Saudi Arabia implement its ambitious economic reform program.”

Prince bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defence minister, also is due to meet US Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon.

Earlier this year, he poured cold water on suggestions to end the world's only ban on women driving cars, saying the Saudi community "is not convinced about women driving".

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