U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince on Friday and the two are expected to discuss conflicts in the Middle East including the campaign against Islamic State, a White House spokesman said on Thursday.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, is on a visit to the United States aimed at restoring frayed relations with Washington and to promote a plan to slash the kingdom’s dependence on oil revenues. Friday’s meeting will take place at the White House.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss issues including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and “our cooperation with the Saudis in the campaign against ISIL,” as Islamic State is also known.

U.S. officials have expressed unease about the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has resulted in large-scale civilian casualties, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Reuters reported last week that the U.N. had removed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen from a child rights blacklist after intense pressure by Riyadh.

Prince Mohammed, whose influence in Saudi governing counsels appears to be growing rapidly, is being given wide access to Obama’s administration.

He will visit the White House on Thursday afternoon to meet with Obama’s National Economic Council to discuss the plan the prince is championing to transform the Saudi economy by 2030. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be present.

“A lot of our economic officials this afternoon will be meeting with him about how to move that program forward and adopt best practices,” Schultz said Prince Mohammed, who is also the Saudi defense minister, also is due to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Source:  National News Agency

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