Obama to visit UK, Saudi Arabia next month
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President Obama plans to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom next month as part of a previously planned overseas trip, which also includes a stop in Germany.

The visits are intended to shore up ties with two of the United States's longstanding allies amid concerns about the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and saber-rattling by Iran.

In Saudi Arabia, Obama will participate in an April 21 summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The president hosted Gulf state nations at Camp David last year to assuage their concerns about the nuclear deal with Iran.

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The latest meeting follows multiple ballistic missile tests by Iran in defiance of United Nations resolutions, prompting worries from Tehran’s rivals in the Middle East.

Obama also plans to visit London, where he will meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and have lunch with Queen Elizabeth II. The president is expected to address a June referendum on whether Great Britain should remain in the European Union.

The trip comes after the president made comments critical of both nations’ governments in a lengthy piece on his foreign policy views.

Obama described many U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe as “free riders” in multiple interviews with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

The president urged the Saudis to find a way to “share the neighborhood” with Iran, a longtime foe.

If they do not, Obama warned, “sectarian conflicts [will] continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”

In comments that grabbed headlines in the U.K., Obama said European allies share blames for the situation in Libya, singling out Cameron for becoming “distracted by a range of other things” after a coalition bombing campaign helped oust former leader Moammar Gadhafi.