Ryan, Saudi King Hold Security Talks

Ryan, Saudi King Hold Security Talks

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is leading a Congressional delegation to the Middle East, meeting on Wednesday with Saudi King Salman in the first regional stop for talks centered on security.

A statement by Ryan's office said his meetings in the Middle East "will focus on regional stability, the campaign against ISIS and terrorism, and Iranian aggression."

Saudi Arabia is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The kingdom and the U.S. also cooperate on intelligence sharing related to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

The kingdom's relations with Washington were strained under President Barack Obama, whose administration helped negotiate a nuclear deal with Saudi rival, Iran.

Saudi-U.S. ties have since improved under President Donald Trump, whose first overseas visit as president was to Saudi Arabia in May. The two sides oversaw the signing of more than $100 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia during that visit.

State-run Saudi media showed Ryan meeting with King Salman after he was received at the airport in Riyadh by the head of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, a consultative body that is appointed by the monarch. There is no elected legislative body in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy where all major decisions rest with the king.

Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, is traveling with five Republican members of congress and one Democrat. The delegation includes Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Scott Taylor (R-VA) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).

Ryan, who faces mid-term elections this year if he chooses to seek re-election to an 11th term, is scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.