Obama reassures Gulf allies on Iran, security at summit

President Barack Obama was seeking to convince Gulf allies including Saudi Arabia on Thursday that the United States is committed to their security despite deep concern among Arab leaders about US efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran.

During a rare, high-profile summit at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, Obama was meeting with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, all members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to discuss security cooperation.

Obama met on Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House after King Salman pulled out of the visit. The United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to [President] Franklin Roosevelt,” Obama said at the start of the meeting. “We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time,” he said.

Tension over US policy toward Tehran, Syria and the Arab Spring uprisings was tto loom over the meetings, which have already been overshadowed by some countries’ decisions to send lower-level leaders.

Arab leaders are concerned that lifting Western sanctions as part of a nuclear deal with Iran would empower Tehran to act in destabilizing ways in the region.

The United States and five other world powers are in talks with Tehran to curb its atomic program. The Obama administration would like GCC support for the deal to help convince a skeptical US Congress it has broad backing in the region.