U.S. President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabiaâ€™s King Abdullah warmly spoke of friendship in their public statements after their White House meeting Tuesday, but they did not relate to their differences:
The king’s desire for pressure on Israel, his request to buy a fleet of F-15 warplanes and Saudi money for Taliban terrorists.
President Obama praised the king for "His Majesty’s wisdom and insights," and added, "We talked about our joint interest and work together in combating violent extremism. And we talked about a range of strategic issues, including issues relating to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Iran and its attempts to develop nuclear weapons capacity. We discussed the Middle East peace process and the importance of moving forward in a significant and bold way in securing a Palestinian homeland that can live side by side with a secure and prosperous Israeli state."
King Abdullah did not relate to any of the specific issues that the president raised and instead spoke of the American people as friends of Saudi Arabia, adding that President Obama is an "honorable and…good man."
Their meeting comes one week before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to visit the White House, which is walking a tightrope between satisfying Palestinian Authority demands and President Obama’s sinking popularity at home among Christians as well as Jews. Earlier in June, the White House hosted PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The differences among interested parties in the American strategy "continue to make Middle East peace an unsolvable puzzle for the administration," the Christian Science Monitor reported after Tuesday’s high-profile meeting.
The Israeli government feels "Obama has been slow to grasp just how urgent the threat against Israel is," James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation told the newspaper. "The Israeli leader has held since the beginning of his government that Iran is the most urgent problem facing Israel and the international community."
The Arab world, with support from many advisors in the Obama administration, has tried to place the Arab demands for a Palestinian Authority country as the key to solving all of the region’s problems.
Another deep division between Saudi Arabia and the United States is the flow of money from the oil kingdom to Taliban terrorists, despite the king’s statement that both countries are "combating terrorism."
"The Saudis are trying to broker something between [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai and the Taliban, while the United States would prefer to move to serious negotiations only after some ‘progress,’ from our point of view, on the battlefield, Phillips told the Monitor.
A third problem for President Obama is the Saudi king’s desire to buy F-15 warplanes, ostensibly to help it offset Iran’s growing power but which also could be used against Israel if the pan-Arab world repeats its 1967 attempt to destroy the Jewish State