The White House said Friday that the top Saudi diplomat “welcomed” the recent nuclear deal with Iran in a meeting with President Barack Obama, after months of skepticism.
In a statement following a White House sit-down, US officials said Obama and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir “welcomed” the plan reached between five international powers and Iran this week.
In a separate statement, the Saudi embassy said Jubeir “reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s support for an agreement that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability.”
The meeting, requested by King Salman, comes after Saudi diplomats privately expressed grave misgivings that the nuclear agreement may legitimize their arch-foe Iran.
Riyadh’s public endorsement — even if tepid and tempered by private misgivings — is a coup for the White House, which is campaigning for Congress to back the deal.
Former ambassador to the United States Bandar bin Sultan was less diplomatic about Saudi views, describing the accord as worse than an ill-fated agreement with North Korea.
In an article published in multiple Middle Eastern outlets, he said that with billions of dollars Iran would get from unfreezing sanctions, Tehran would “wreak havoc in the Middle East which is already living a disastrous environment.”