Obama calls Saudi king before laying out ISIS strategy

U.S. President Barack Obama greets the audience before his remarks in Tallinn September 3, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama greets the audience before his remarks in Tallinn September 3, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday ahead of a speech outlining his strategy to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the White House said.

The White House said Obama and King Abdullah agreed to support the moderate Syrian opposition and on the position considering the regime of president Bashar al-Assad as illegitimate.

The two leaders also agreed to offer backing to the embattled Yemeni president who is facing a growing rebellion from the Shiite Huthis.

Obama called King Abdullah from the Oval Office, underlining Saudi Arabia’s role as a potentially key member of the international coalition that President Obama is trying to build to take on the jihadist group, Agence France-Presse reported.

He also gathered what is effectively his war cabinet in the secure Situation Room of the White House. The meeting included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, senior leaders of the military and the chiefs of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The phone call between Obama and King Abdullah preceded his speech to the nation at 9pm (01:00 GMT Thursday) about his new strategy to take on ISIS and came ahead of a planned visit to Saudi Arabia by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry arrived in Baghdad Wednesday and endorsed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s plans to mend relations with Sunnis and Kurds, and said Iraq was a partner in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Kerry said: “We all have an interest in supporting the new government of Iraq.”

“The coalition that is at the heart of our global strategy I assure you will continue to grow and deepen in the days ahead … because the United States and the world will simply not stand by to watch as ISIL’s evil spreads.” he said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State.

“A new and inclusive Iraqi government has to be the engine of our global strategy against ISIL. Now the Iraqi parliament has approved a new cabinet with new leaders, with representation from all Iraqi communities, it’s full steam ahead.”

Kerry did not reveal Obama’s plans. But he predicted a coalition of at least 40 nations ultimately will eliminate the Islamic State and said Obama will “lay out with great specificity a broad strategy” to deal with the Islamic State group.

 
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