Obama aide held "comprehensive" talks with Saudi King

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 13, 2011 5:51 PM
Obama aide held "comprehensive" talks with Saudi King

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top aide to President Barack Obama has held comprehensive talks with Saudi Arabia's ruler, the White House said on Wednesday, as Washington sought to reassure its Arab allies amid protests jolting the region.

National security adviser Tom Donilon met with Saudi King Abdullah before traveling to Abu Dhabi for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan, who will meet with Obama in Washington later this month.

Donilon's meeting with King Abdullah "highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Saudi partnership rooted in strong historical ties and shared interests," said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Donilon also "commended" Saudi efforts to mediate a peaceful transfer of power in its neighbor Yemen, Vietor said in a statement issued in Washington.

More than 100 demonstrators have been killed in Yemen in weeks of protests aiming to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Donilon's visit came a few days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with King Abdullah.

Arab leaders allied to the United States have questioned its backing of pro-democracy movements which have swept rulers from power in Egypt and Tunisia and continue to challenge other governments, including Saudi Arabia's neighbor Bahrain.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani will meet with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday and with Obama at the White House on Thursday. [nN13291375]

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Laura MacInnis)