Washington-US President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia and Britain ahead of his previously scheduled trip to Germany next month.
The White House says Obama will head to Saudi Arabia on April 21 for a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which will be hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Efforts against ISIS militant group and other Middle East security issues are expected to be discussed during the talks.
The White House said the summit in Saudi Arabia “will be an opportunity for leaders to review progress in strengthening US-GCC security cooperation” in the year since the gathering at Camp David in May 2015.
“It will also provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss additional steps to intensify pressure on ISIS, address regional conflicts, and de-escalate regional and sectarian tensions,” the statement said.
Obama’s visits come at a time when controversies raged among several countries, including UK and Gulf states, following his comments, which were published last week in The Atlantic magazine. In his statements, Obama provoked a backlash in Saudi Arabia and described Gulf countries and other allies as “free riders” because of their overreliance on US military action, prompting criticism from the Saudi royal family and others.
The Director of the Middle East Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jon B. Alterman, refused to describe Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia as an apology. He stated: “I do not think that President Obama believes that he should provide an apology, yet he just wants to clarify his statements.”
He added: “In my opinion, Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his participation at the GCC summit aim at proceeding discussions held at Camp David with Gulf leaders last May.”
In Britain, Obama will have a private dinner with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and will hold a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron.
A spokesman said: “The visit will allow the president to offer his gratitude to the British government and people for their stalwart partnership with his administration and the American people throughout his presidency period.”
Obama will conclude his visits’ schedule in Germany, and he will attend the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology and meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It will be Obama’s fifth visit to Germany. “It underscores the enduring political and economic ties between Americans and Germans and highlights the U.S. commitment to trade and investment as drivers of job creation and economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic,” the statement said.