Visiting Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged to remain vigilant against Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East, reports The Associated Press.
“None of our nations have an interest in conflict with Iran,” Obama said as he met with top officials from six Arab nations at a Gulf summit in Saudi Arabia.
Obama added that he and the Gulf leaders had agreed about ways to move forward in their campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council agreeing to “increase their contributions to the fight.”
Obama’s comments in Riyadh came after talks aimed at reassuring and co-ordinating with Mideast allies that harbor serious doubts about Obama’s outreach to Iran and about U.S. policy toward Syria, where a civil war rages on, noted AP.
Obama said the fragile cessation of hostilities there was under “tremendous strain” and he decried continued violations, but made the case for sticking to the American strategy of using diplomatic talks to pursuing a political transition for Syria.
“This violence is yet another reminder that there’s just one way to end this civil war,” Obama added.
In addition to ISIS and Syria, the Gulf states are also skeptical of Obama’s willingness to negotiate with Iran, and fear that last year’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic will lead to a rebalancing of regional stances at their expense.
In recent weeks, Secretary of State John Kerry called on Iran to help end wars in Yemen and Syria, but has also hinted that the United States was open to a "new arrangement" with Iran for peacefully resolving disputes such as its recent ballistic missile tests.
Obama said on Thursday that even with the deal, the U.S. and its Gulf partners had “serious concerns” about ongoing Iranian behavior, including arms shipments that have been interdicted.
“We will remain vigilant to make sure Iran fulfils its commitments, just as we fulfil ours,” Obama said, according to AP.
While the U.S. has said Iran is meeting its commitments under the nuclear deal, Obama has also faced intense criticism from many Republicans as well as Sunni-led countries for sanctions relief the U.S. is granting Iran under the deal.
A recent report indicated that the Obama administration is considering easing financial restrictions that prohibit American dollars from being used in transactions with Iran, a move which sparked anger among lawmakers opposed to the nuclear deal with Iran.