Obama salutes Saudi peace plan, seeks aid in fighting Gaza smuggling

Obama underscores the "importance of a strong US-Saudi relationship" in call to Saudi king.

Obama big head 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Obama big head 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US President Barack Obama asked Saudi Arabia for help to stop weapons smuggling into Gaza and emphasized his appreciation for the Arab peace initiative in a call to Saudi King Abdullah Friday.
Obama "underscored the importance of a strong US-Saudi relationship" in the call, according to the White House press office, which touched on Abdullah's sponsorship of the peace plan and his interfaith dialogue effort, as well as the latter's commitment to providing assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
The call was part of Obama's continued outreach to foreign leaders during his first week of work in the Oval Office. He also spoke to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations.
Obama and Brown discussed their countries' relationship, the need to confront the global economic crisis and the political and military situations in Gaza and Afghanistan. Obama also told Brown he hopes to attend April's G-20 Summit in London, the White House said.
"The tone of the conversation was friendly and substantive," Brown's Downing Street office said, in a statement from London.
Obama plans to make his first international trip as president to neighboring Canada, a major participant in the NATO war effort in Afghanistan. The Obama trip will be in keeping with tradition, as most US presidents make Canada their first foreign stop.
Newly installed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also engaged in outreach to international leaders, calling Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as a host of other Middle Eastern, European and Asian dignitaries.
They were all "brief introductory calls," according to Acting State Department Spokesman Robert Wood, but he said they did allow Clinton to stress the new administration's commitment to working to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Middle East peace is a priority, a very high priority, for this administration," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report