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There were two notable absentees at this week’s summit of Arab Gulf leaders and US President Barack Obama in the US capital and the Camp David presidential retreat. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman stayed away in what has been widely interpreted as a snub. Iran, meanwhile, was the uninvited guest that nonetheless cast a shadow over the discussions.
Mr Obama wants to end his second term with an Iranian nuclear deal under his belt and took pains to reassure the Arab leaders that he is mindful of the threat that Iran poses to Middle Eastern stability. In an interview with the Saudi-owned, pan Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper just days before the meeting, Mr Obama said Gulf countries had reason to fear Iran.
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