Obama aide`s Gulf talks productive: White House

Tom Donilon held "positive and productive" talks in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Last Updated: Apr 14, 2011, 14:40 PM IST

Washington: President Barack Obama`s top national security aide Tom Donilon held "positive and productive" talks in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the White House said on Wednesday.

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon also used a visit to Abu Dhabi to invite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit Washington later this month.

Donilon held talks on Tuesday with Saudi King Abdullah on US-Saudi relations, focusing on security, political and economic issues. Relations between the two countries have been strained by differing interpretations of the current turmoil in the Middle East.

"The discussions highlighted the importance of the US-Saudi partnership rooted in strong historical ties and shared interests," said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement.

Donilon commended the Gulf Cooperation Council`s efforts to promote a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen where President Ali Abdullah Saleh is facing fierce anti-government protests, Vietor said.

But the statement did not say whether Donilon and the King discussed the political crisis in Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia heads a joint contingent of Gulf troops deployed in Bahrain on March 14 in support of the Sunni minority King Hamad who has faced stiff opposition from Shi’ite majority protestors.

The Saudi Press Agency earlier reported that Donilon delivered a letter to the King from Obama.

Donilon moved on to meet the crown prince in Abu Dhabi to discuss the UAE`s role in the international civilian protection mission in Libya.

"Mr Donilon conveyed an invitation from President Obama for the crown prince to meet (him) in Washington later this month, which the crown prince accepted," Vietor said.

Bureau Report