Saudi Arabia’s monarch pulled out of a summit to be hosted by President Barack Obama on Thursday, in a blow to the White House’s efforts to build Arab support for a nuclear accord with Iran.
King Salman’s decision appeared to ripple across the Persian Gulf. Bahrain said on Sunday that its ruler, King Hamad bin Isaa Al Khalifa, had opted not to travel to Washington.
The only two monarchs from the six countries confirmed to attend the summit at the White House and the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., were the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait.
At stake for the White House is Mr. Obama’s key foreign-policy initiative, an Iran pact that is proceeding toward a June 30 deadline without support from regional powers. King Salman’s decision signals that the Arab states aren’t on board and could continue to act on their own to thwart Tehran, as Saudi Arabia has done in leading a military coalition against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Senior Arab officials involved in organizing the meeting said not enough progress had been made in narrowing differences with Washington on issues like Iran and Syria to make the Saudi ruler’s trip worth it.