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Obama to travel to Saudi Arabia next month

Feb. 3, 2014 at 3:05 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March following his travel to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, the White House press office Monday.

"The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security," press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

The visit to Saudi Arabia comes as relations between the two have caught a rough patch over disagreements on Iran and Syria, among other issues, the Hill reported.

The Saudis and Israel criticized the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran and have been pushing for the United States to take a more active role battling the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

The Saudis also expressed disappointment with Obama's Egypt policy, particularly for calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011 and for withholding part of the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid after the Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted last year.

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