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Obama Calls Saudi King Amid Tense Relations

Saudi King receives a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama, Iran deal likely discussed.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/28/2013, 4:12 AM

Obama and Saudi King Abdullah
Obama and Saudi King Abdullah
Saudi embassy

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz received a phone call on Wednesday from U.S. President Barack Obama during which the two leaders discussed bilateral ties and regional issues, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The phone conversation came days after the United States and other major world powers signed an interim deal with Iran about its nuclear program and amid tensions in relations between the Americans and the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia initially said that the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program could be a step towards a comprehensive solution – and hoped it could lead to the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East.

Later, however, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family said that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.

The advisor, Nawaf Obaid, told a think tank meeting in London "we were lied to, things were hidden from us. The problem is not with the deal that was struck in Geneva but how it was done.”

The Saudi call for independent policy comes after an interview appeared last Friday in which Saudi Arabia’s UK ambassador, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said his country would not "sit idly by" if the West failed to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Relations between Washington and Riyadh have reportedly been strained since the U.S. backed away from military action against Syria over President Bashar Al-Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Saudi King Abdullah earlier this month, perhaps signalling a shift towards alignment with the Russians.