President Barack Obama met Saudi deputy crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Friday at the White House and discussed ways to support Iraqis in their fight against Islamic State militants and the importance of a political transition in Syria, the White House said.
Obama met with Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval office for about an hour. The deputy crown prince is visiting the United States to repair frayed relations and to promote a plan, known as Vision 2030, to slash the kingdom’s dependence on oil exports.
“Reviewing recent Iraqi gains against ISIL, the president and deputy crown prince discussed steps to support the Iraqi people, including increased Gulf support to fund urgent humanitarian and stabilization needs,” according to a White House statement.
The two talked about steps to support Iraqis “including increased Gulf support to fund urgent humanitarian and stabilization needs,” the White House said.
The U.S. has urged the international community to help reconstruct the country.
Noting his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s contributions to the anti-ISIS fight, Obama also exchanged views on Syria with the prince, the White House said.
Obama and the prince talked about the importance of supporting a political transition away from President Bashar al-Assad, the White House said. The United States is working with international partners on what it calls a Syrian-led transition process facilitated by the United Nations, but so far there has been little progress.
“They reaffirmed the importance of supporting the cessation of hostilities and a political transition away from [Syrian President Bashar] Asad,” the statement said.
Over 50 diplomats at the U.S. State Department signed a memo, leaked on Thursday, that was critical of the Obama administration’s Syria policy and called for targeted military strikes against Assad’s government.
Asked about the memo, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, also in Washington, told reporters the kingdom had been arguing for a “more robust intervention” including airstrikes, a no-fly zone, and a no-drive zone, from the beginning of the five-year civil war.
Obama does not see a military solution to the crisis in Syria, White House spokeswoman Jen Friedman said.
Yemen Crisis and Saudi intervention
U.S. officials have expressed unease about the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which according to the United Nations and human rights groups has resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties.
Obama welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a political settlement of the Yemen conflict and support by the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the kingdom is a member, to address humanitarian needs and rebuild the country, the White House said.
Earlier this month, UN has blacklisted Saudi Arabia over crimes against Yemeni civilians and children. Later, UN had to remove Saudi Arabia from the list after pressure.