U.S. President Barack Obama attends the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague March 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
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The White House was late to announce Obama's stop in Riyadh, following his European tour, fueling speculation on the motives behind the president's second visit since his election in 2009 to Washington's decades-old ally in the Middle East.Relations have soured, with Riyadh openly criticizing U.S. policy on regional issues, which are to be discussed at a meeting followed by dinner between King Abdullah and Obama.The Saudis were bitterly disappointed by Obama's eleventh-hour decision last year to back down from military action against Syria over chemical weapons attacks.The Saudis responded warily to Obama's support of protests that overthrew authoritarian regimes, especially Egypt's uprising which ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak, a staunch U.S. and Saudi ally.The kingdom was dismayed by the partial freezing of U.S. aid to Egypt, whose army toppled Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in July – a move hailed by Saudi Arabia.
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