U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Saudi Arabia to pay respects after the death of King Abdullah and bolster ties between Washington and Riyadh. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay U.S. respects after the death of King Abdullah, a trip that underscores the importance of a U.S.-Saudi alliance that extends beyond oil interests to regional security. Obama's visit comes as Washington struggles with worsening strife in the Middle East and counts Saudi Arabia among its few steady partners in a campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria. The U.S. security headache worsened last week with the resignation of Yemen's government after clashes in the capital involving Iran-backed rebels - a setback to U.S. efforts to contain al Qaeda in that country and to limit the regional influence of Shi'ite Muslim Iran. The Yemen government's collapse will be of deep concern to Saudi Arabia because of the long border they share and because of the advance of Iran, Sunni Saudi's main regional rival. Saudi Arabia's role in rallying Arab support for action with Western countries against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, has won praise in Washington, which along with other Western nations values the kingdom as an important market for its defence industries. Following Abdullah's death last week, Obama will try to get relations off to a smooth start with new Saudi King Salman, who takes power after a period of sometimes tense relations between Washington and Riyadh. Showing how crucial the Saudi alliance is for Obama, he cut short his visit to India to lead a high-ranking delegation to Riyadh.