Saudi officials give Obama chilly reception in Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia --President Obama met for two hours Wednesday with Saudi Arabia's new king at a time when the friendship between the two nations is strained, to say the least.

That was obvious when Air Force One landed in Riyadh. Mr. Obama was met by a small delegation, minus the usual pomp and ceremony that is usually given to world leaders. Nor was his arrival shown on Saudi state television.

Senior Saudi officials made clear that relations with the U.S. will only improve after President Obama leaves office. The Saudis are particularly angry about the Iran nuclear deal, and they believe that only the next U.S. president -- whether it's Hillary Clinton or even Donald Trump -- will be able to restore Saudi Arabia's status as America's key ally in the Middle East.

Saudi leaders also flatly reject Mr. Obama's description of them as free riders, too reliant on American military power. Most importantly, they say, the U.S. shouldn't be alienating them because they need Saudi Arabia's support to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman walk together following their meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.