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Foreign affairs

Saudi Arabia's King Salman to skip meetings in the U.S.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman will not attend meetings with President Obama at the White House or at a summit at Camp David this week, the state-run Saudi Press Agency announced on Sunday, and Arab officials believe it's due to the king being upset over U.S. relations with Iran.

On Friday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that King Salman would be there to "resume consultations on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues," but instead, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, defense minister, will attend. A senior administration official told The New York Times King Salman is set to call Obama on Monday to explain why he's not coming.

Secretary of State John Kerry met on Friday in Paris with officials from the countries invited to the summit — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman — to talk about what they expected from the meeting. Administration officials said the Gulf nations want a defense treaty in which the U.S. agrees to defend them if they came under external attack, which would be hard to get since such treaties have to be ratified by Congress. Obama is set to offer a presidential statement, a source said, but that would not be binding and future presidents would not have to honor it. The Arab nations also want to purchase more weapons from America, but the U.S. has restrictions in place on what arms defense firms can sell to Arab countries, to make sure Israel keeps a military edge in the region.