After the White House badly muffed the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu and blew the Paris anti-terrorism march attended by 40 world leaders, President Obama has decided to skip a visit next week to Taj Mahal and instead head to the Saudi Arabia to meet the new king.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud passed away this week at 90. The White House decided to send Vice President Joe Biden, but concerned that the decision might be seen as a snub, changed Obama’s scheduled trip to India so the president can stop in Riyadh on the way home.
World leaders have been streaming into the country to pay their respects to the powerful kingdom, which controls one of the world’s largest reserves of oil. The late King Abdullah had been a close friend of the United States, but the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is less known in the West.
The president has been on a bad streak of late. He skipped the Paris march after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, instead watching NFL playoof football. The White House later acknowledged that it should have sent someone with a “higher profile” than just the U.S. ambassador to France.
Then this week, the White House announced that Obama will not see the Israeli Prime Minister on his March visit to address Congress, calling the invitation from House Speaker John Boehner a breach of protocol. But the president did make time on Thursday to visit with a YouTube star who once took a bath in a tub filled with milk and Fruit Loops, prompting much ridicule.
Now, with the change announced Saturday by the White House, Biden will stay in Washington as Obama makes the trip to Saudi Arabia.
But once again, Obama will be a day late and a dollar short. He won’t stop in Riyadh until Tuesday, while Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito will visit on Saturday and Sunday to offer condolences.