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Report Says Obama Plans Saudi Visit Amid Tensions Over Iran

A prominent U.S. newspaper is reporting that U.S. President Barack Obama is planning to travel to Saudi Arabia in March in an attempt to smooth tensions with the kingdom over U.S. policy on Iran and Syria.

"The Wall Street Journal," quoting Saudi officials, reported on January 31 that Obama is preparing to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the report.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the kingdom was formed in 1932.

But relations have been tested recently by Washington’s outreach to Tehran and its unwillingness to get involved militarily in Syria’s civil war.

Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim kingdom and a regional rival of Shi'ite Iran, an ally of Syria.

The rivalry has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

Based on reporting by Reuters and "The Wall Street Journal"