Obama to Visit Saudi King Salman After Curbing Domestic Oil Expansion

Barack Obama didn’t have time to travel to France in observance of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He doesn’t have time to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, either.But it seems Obama is willing to make time to visit Saudi Arabia — and bearing quite a gift in the process.

He’s traveling to Saudi Arabia Tuesday “to meet with new King Salman to pay respects after the death of King Abdullah,” and announcing the closing down of even more domestic oil production potential while on his way there. Usually Obama waits until he’s face-to-face to bow to a Saudi king. This time it appears he took care of the formality well in advance.

The Obama administration will propose setting aside more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, including 1.5 million acres of coastal plain, the White House announced Sunday, in a move that will spark a fierce battle with the new Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, Lisa Murkowski, and other Alaska Republicans.

“Alaska’s National Wildlife refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska native communities. But it’s very fragile,” said President Obama in a just released White House video on the move.

The announcement, according to individuals briefed on the plan, is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state’s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

And in a final insult to modernity, he cut short his visit India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for good measure. Evidently, the Saudis are too important for Joe Biden, let alone John Kerry and James Taylor.

(Obama) will cut short his trip, missing a planned tour of the Taj Mahal, to travel to Saudi Arabia, the White House said.

The White House had originally planned that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden would lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia, but now that Obama will travel to Riyadh, Biden will remain in Washington.


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