2 Gulf Daily News Wednesday, 28th January 2015 Obama visit boosts Saudi ties US President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday to pay his respects after the death of King Abdullah, a trip that underscores the importance of a US-Saudi alliance that extends beyond oil interests to regional security. RIYADH: During his brief stop in Riyadh, Obama held his first formal meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The hour-long meeting focused on a range of Mideast security issues – sectarian divisions in Iraq, the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group, the precarious situation in Yemen and support for Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar Assad, said a US official. Stepping off the plane earlier in Riyadh, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were greeted by King Salman and a military band playing both countries’ national anthems. King Salman led an honour guard of senior Saudi princes and officials to greet them, including the crown prince and deputy crown prince and the kingdom’s veteran Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi. Some of the all-male Saudi delegation shook hands with Michelle while others gave her a nod as they passed by. She wore full-length clothing but no headscarf, as is typical for many Western women in Saudi Arabia. The King formally greeted Obama and the US delegation at the Erga Palace on the outskirts of Riyadh, where dozens of Saudi officials filed through a marble-walled room to greet the Americans under massive crystal chandeliers. Then they sat for a three-course dinner of grilled meats, baked lobster and Arabic and French desserts. Obama cut short his trip to India to spend just a few hours in Riyadh. Further underscoring n Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with King Salman as they arrive in Riyadh Saudi Arabia’s key role in US foreign policy was the extensive delegation that joined Obama for the visit. Secretary of State John Kerry joined Obama in Riyadh, along with former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker III, both of whom served Republican presidents. Former White House national security advisers Brent Scowcroft, Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley also made the trip, as did Senator John McCain, a frequent critic of Obama’s Mideast policy. CIA director John Brennan and Gen Lloyd Austin, com- mander of US Central Command, which overseas military activity in the Middle East, were also taking part in yesterday’s meetings with the Saudis. The US and Saudi Arabia have worked in close co-ordination to address evolving security concerns in the region. Most recently, Saudi Arabia became one of a handful of Arab nations that have joined the US in launching airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama wanted to discuss with King Salman the fight against Islamic State, the volatile situation in Yemen and talks on ending a long-running dispute about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We do believe that Saudi policy will remain quite similar to how it’s been under King Abdullah,” he said, adding Obama wanted to forge the same kind of “close relationship” with King Salman as he had with his predecessor. n Mr Al Adraj n Mr Ahmed Ali n Mr Fadhel Salman n Mr Gholoom n Mr Jaffar Ahmed n Mr Jaffar Mohsin n Mr Ibrahim Ali n Mr Ibrahim Yusuf n Mr Mohammed Ahmed Social media misuse nine suspects held MANAMA: Nine suspects have been arrested for allegedly misusing social media, it was announced last night. The general director of anti-corruption and economic and electronic security identified them as Mohammed Saeed Al Adraj, 24; Mohammed Ahmed Ali, 21; Yousif Fadhel Salman, 21; Abbas Ali Ahmed Gholoom, 23; Kameel Ibrahim Yusuf, 19; Hussain Mohammed Ahmed, 22; Ali Jaffar Ahmed, 29; Al Sayed Hussein Jaffar Mohsin, 28; and Ali Ibrahim Ali, 21. Three of the suspects are university students. The 19-year-old is a school student while five others are private sector employees. According to Article 215 of the Penal Code, imprisonment for a period of no more than two years or a fine of no more than BD200 will be imposed on any person who offends in public a foreign country or an international organisation based in Bahrain or its president or representative, the general director said. The same penalty will apply to a person who offends such organisation’s flag or official emblem. He said a warrant had been obtained from the Public Prosecution to arrest the suspects. Legal procedures are underway to refer them to the Public Prosecution, the official added.
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