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Published On: Tue, Jan 27th, 2015

President Obama flies to Middle East, meets Saudi King Salman

President Obama made a quick trip to the Middle East, meeting with the new Saudi leader, King Salman, days after the passing of King Abdullah.

Obama cut short his trip to India and visited the Saudis with former Secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice.

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in a region.

The President told CNN that he is unlikely to raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison last May for “insulting Islam through electronic channels”

His visit would focus on “paying respects to King Abdullah, who in his own fashion represented some modest reform efforts within the kingdom”, the president added.

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On human rights, Mr Obama said: “We have maintained a sustained dialogue with the Saudis and with all the other countries we work with. What I have found effective is to apply steady, consistent pressure, even as we are getting business done that needs to get done.”

“And oftentimes that makes some of our allies uncomfortable. It makes them frustrated, sometimes we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability.”

Also among the 30-strong US delegation are CIA director John Brennan, John McCain, the Republican chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, and Republican former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.

In an interview with CNN before he left India, Mr Obama suggested he would be unlikely to raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison last May for “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and “going beyond the realm of obedience”.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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