US Defense Chief Visits Saudi Arabia to Mend Ties

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Context
Following a rebuff from King Abdullah last month, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates met him in private on Wednesday to try and mend strained ties between the US and Saudi Arabia. Mr. Gates described his one-on-one meeting with the Saudi monarch as “extremely cordial”, but said that he didn’t raise with the ruler one of the most controversial issues dividing the two countries: Saudi Arabia’s decision to disregard President Obama and send forces into Bahrain to crush a revolt last month. Ties between the US and Saudi Arabia are at an all-time low since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The two countries are at odds not only because of Saudi intervention in Bahrain but also because of President Obama’s support for protestors in Egypt rather than President Hosni Mubarak. After Mubarak’s ouster, Saudi Arabia cancelled trips to Riyadh by Gates and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that the king wasn’t well.