Obama Aims to Reassure Persian Gulf Allies in Saudi Arabia

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Obama en route to a meeting with Persian Gulf leaders on Thursday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

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Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Obama joined the leaders of six Persian Gulf nations on Thursday for a summit meeting intended to reassure allies in the region that the United States is committed to their security.

In a series of closed-door sessions, Mr. Obama and his counterparts were expected to discuss ways to promote regional security, efforts to defeat terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and how best to deal with Iran.

Before the trip, American officials said they hoped the summit meeting would build on discussions with top Persian Gulf officials that took place when Mr. Obama hosted a similar group at Camp David a year ago.

Rob Malley, the president’s top Middle East adviser, told reporters that the leaders would talk about how to “shore up their security; and second, how we could work together more effectively to deal with the regional conflicts that were tearing the region apart.”

White House officials said there would be no major announcements coming out of the summit meeting, although they hinted that the leaders were expected to commit to new cooperation on counterterrorism activities, to bolstering the region’s ballistic missile defense system, and to American help to combat cyberthreats.

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But more broadly, for Mr. Obama, the meeting offers an opportunity to reassure allies in the region that the United States government remains steadfast in its pledge to defend them against regional threats, including efforts by Iran they view as destabilizing.

Mr. Obama’s diplomatic negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have unnerved Gulf countries, some of whom view them as evidence of a shift in American interests away from the Persian Gulf nations.

The summit meeting is taking place at the Diriyah Palace, where Mr. Obama entered Thursday morning, walking down a chandelier-filled hallway and past a phalanx of Saudi soldiers holding gold swords.

The president posed for pictures with the Arab leaders before taking his place at a small, round table where he chatted with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

Later on Thursday, Mr. Obama was expected to depart Saudi Arabia for London, where he will have lunch with the queen, eat dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and meet with Prime Minister David Cameron.

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