Noting that the U.S. presidency of Barack Obama has created great hope in the Islamic world, the Saudi King Abdullah told a top U.S. official that he should restore America’s credibility in the Muslim countries, according to a leaked State Department cable by WikiLeaks.
This was communicated personally by the King, to John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counter terrorism advisor, when the latter went to meet him in March 2009 and delivered a personal letter of the US President to the Saudi King.
“Thank God for bringing Obama to the Presidency,” the King answered, which has created “great hope” in the Muslim world.
“May God grant him strength and patience, Abdullah continued, May God protect him. I’m concerned about his personal safety. America and the world need such a President,” the Saudi King said according to the State Department cable.
Mr. Abdullah said his one piece of advice was that restoring U.S. credibility in the world was critically important. Brennan responded that this was an important issue for Mr. Obama as well.
“Brennan said that under President Obama we will restore our credibility,” the cable said.
During the meeting, Abdullah said “as a friend” that “it was a mistake” to limit access of Saudi citizens to the U.S., since “this damages bilateral relations and the image of the U.S. in Saudi Arabia.”
The King noted there were 60,000 Saudi students abroad, about one third of whom were in the US, and “others would have gone” but for the difficulties in gaining access to the US.
According to the cable, the King expressed hope the US would review its Iran policy and “come to the right conclusion.”
Brennan responded that Obama was personally reviewing US Iran policy and wanted to hear the King’s thoughts.
“Abdullah asserted that Iran is trying to set up Hizbollah-like organisations in African countries, observing that the Iranians don’t think they are doing anything wrong and don’t recognize their mistakes.
“I said (to Mottaki) that’s your problem,” recounted the King, the cable said.
“Abdullah said he would favor Rafsanjani in an Iranian election, were he to run.
He described Iran not as “a neighbour one wants to see,” but as “a neighbour one wants to avoid.”