The Latest: White House touts security agreements in Gulf

AP News
Posted: Apr 21, 2016 10:57 AM
The Latest: White House touts security agreements in Gulf

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Latest on President Barack Obama's meeting with top officials from six Arab nations in Saudi Arabia. (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The White House says the U.S and Gulf Arab allies have agreed to various security initiatives designed to defeat the Islamic State group as well as to counter Iran's actions in the region.

The leaders have committed to accelerating efforts to field an early warning system for ballistic missiles. They have also finalized plans to undertake a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council military exercise in March 2017.

Other security initiatives resulting from the Riyadh summit include the pairing of elite special operations forces from each of the Gulf partners to work with U.S. trainers and an agreement to conduct joint maritime patrols.

The president has left Riyadh and is now flying to London.


5:00 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he's concerned about Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's grip on power but calls him a good partner.

Ultimately, Obama says, it's up to the Iraqi people to make decisions about who leads their government, not the United States or Iran.

Obama says the U.S. is in contact with various factions inside Iraq and is encouraging them to finalize the makeup of a governing cabinet. He notes that the Iraqi government has a lot on its plate, with low oil prices and work needed to save the Mosul Dam and battle the Islamic State. He says now isn't the time for gridlock.

On Syria, Obama says the leaders agree no option for ending civil war is good and that it's hard to see President Bashar Assad as a head of a government that would end the fighting.


4:55 p.m.

President Barack Obama says there's a need for better communication with America's Gulf Arab allies, and that summits like Thursday's in Saudi Arabia are a step in that direction.

Obama's comments come after meetings in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, with leaders from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.

The president says the formation of a new government in Libya and peace talks to end fighting in Yemen — along with last year's nuclear deal with Iran — wouldn't have been possible without support from the Gulf states.

Obama say there's a need for "consistent, institutionalized communication" with countries in the region because "the possibilities of misunderstanding increase when there's so much activity taking place."


4 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the United States and Arab allies remain united in their efforts to destroy the Islamic State group and will continue to increase their contributions to the fight.

Obama is speaking after meeting with U.S.-allied countries in Saudi Arabia.

The president says the leaders have agreed to enhance humanitarian efforts in Iraq and Syria. He says they also continue to see violations of a fragile cease-fire agreement in Syria and that they agree the road ahead there must have a transitional government, a new constitution with free elections and a move away from President Bashar Assad.

Obama says that the leaders also continue to have serious concerns about the behavior of the Iranian government.