Report: Obama heading to Saudi Arabia

President Obama is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia to repair badly frayed ties with one of America's key allies in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Obama will visit the kingdom in March for a meeting with King Abdullah, the Journal reports, citing Arab officials. The White House declined to comment.


The visit comes as the U.S.-Saudi relationship has hit its roughest patch in years over disagreements on Iran, Syria and other flashpoints. The Saudis have joined Israel in criticizing the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, their main rival in the region, and have been pressing for the United States to play a more active role in battling the Iranian-backed regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

“This is about a deteriorating relationship” and declining trust, the Journal cited a senior Arab official as saying.

The Saudis have also been dismayed by Obama's Egypt policy, notably for calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011 and for withholding part of the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid after the military deposed Mubarak's freely elected successor, Mohamed Morsi, last year. The state-run Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported this week that the Saudis are expected to offer Egypt an extra $4 billion central bank deposits and petroleum products, on top of the $5 billion it pledged over the summer.