Washington, Apr 20: US President Barack Obama has embarked on a three-nation six-day tour of Saudi Arabia, the UK and Germany to discuss the fight against ISIS, defence and global economy among others with some of America's key allies in the Gulf and Europe.
"The President will be meeting with some of our key allies and partners in the world in both the Gulf and in Europe," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.
It is a very important chance for him to coordinate US approaches on issues ranging from the counter-ISIL campaign to efforts to promote regional stability in the Middle East, to the support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to efforts to promote global economic growth, he told reporters ahead of Obama's departure yesterday.
Saudi Arabia will be the first stop of Obama on April 20. "This will be a summit between the United States and the Gulf nations, following up on the summit that we had last year, the first of its kind at the head-of-state level at Camp David," he said.
Obama will begin this afternoon by having a bilateral meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Then on April 21, he will have the summit with the GCC leaders, and that summit will be broken into three different sessions - one on regional stability, one on defeating ISIL and al-Qaeda and counterterrorism cooperation, and then one on Iran and regional security and our efforts to prevent destabilising actions across the region, Rhodes said.
Obama is scheduled to fly to the UK from Saudi Arabia. "On Friday, April 22nd, the President will have a lunch with Queen Elizabeth. This visit coincides with her 90th birthday," Rhodes said.
Noting that the US President has very much enjoyed his engagements with the Queen over the years, Rhodes said as a general matter, Obama felt that in his final year in office it would be very important for him to visit his close ally, the UK, given the special relationship and all the work that they do together around the world.
US First Lady Michelle Obama would join the President during the Britain leg of the trip. Following the lunch with the Queen, the President will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.
"We work very closely with the United Kingdom on a host of issues around the world to include the counter-ISIL campaign, counterterrorism efforts, our efforts together in Afghanistan, our efforts, again, to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine, and our collaboration in terms of promoting global economic growth. So a broad agenda to discuss with Prime Minister Cameron," Rhodes said.