Obama to cut short India trip to visit Saudi Arabia

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King Abdullah - Saudi Arabia - through the years
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Obama to cut short India trip to visit Saudi Arabia
In this Sunday Aug. 10, 2014 photo provided by Saudi Press Agency, Saudi's King Abdullah, left, presents Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with a high medal, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. El-Sissi met late Sunday in Saudi Arabia with one of his strongest international supporters, King Abdullah, to talk about key security issues impacting the region. (AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)
The funeral of Saudi King Abdullah takes place in Riyadh, following his death at the age of 90.
In this Monday, July 21, 2014 photo provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, right and Morocco’s king Mohammed VI, left, pose at the Saudi monarch's palace of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The two Sovereigns also tackled regional and international issues of common interest such as the Israeli military action in Gaza. (AP Photo/ Azzouz Boukallouch, Moroccan Royal Palace)
King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry wait for a meeting at the King's private residence Friday, June 27, 2014 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Kerry signaled on Friday that the U.S. hopes to enlist moderate Syrian opposition fighters that the Obama administration has reluctantly decided to arm and train in the battle against militant extremists in neighboring Iraq. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
FILE - This June 27, 2014 file photo, shows Saudi King Abdullah listening to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speak before a meeting at the King's private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The official Saudi Press Agency says King Abdullah has been admitted to a hospital for medical tests. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool, File)
In this Friday, June 20, 2014 photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, inside the king's airplane while parked at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt. Abdullah arrived on a brief visit to Egypt on Friday, his first since the 2011 uprising, to show support for the newly elected President el-Sissi. Egypt state TV showed the king crouched over a cane, greeting Egyptian officials aboard his plane after a nearly hour-long meeting with el-Sissi. The king did not leave the airplane. (AP Photo/SPA)
In this Friday, June 20, 2014 photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, left, speaks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi inside an airplane at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt. Abdullah arrived on a brief visit to Egypt on Friday, his first since the 2011 uprising, to show support for the newly elected President el-Sissi. Egypt state TV showed the king crouched over a cane, greeting Egyptian officials aboard his plane after a nearly hour-long meeting with el-Sissi. The king did not leave the airplane. (AP Photo/MENA)
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, is greeted by Saudi Crown Prince Salman, center, the designated successor to King Abdullah, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew to Saudi Arabia Tuesday for meetings with leaders there at the outset of a week-long Middle East trip designed to reassure allies of the Obama administration's commitment to their defense. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
US President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Rawdat Khuraim is a green oasis located 62 miles northwest of the capital city of Riyadh and King Abdullah's private desert encampment is located within Rawdat Khuraim. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 file photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia. The United Nations has received pleas to help free several Saudi Arabian princesses allegedly being held against their will in a royal compound, officials confirmed Wednesday. The allegations were submitted to the U.N. human rights office, claiming that several daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had been held against their will for the past 13 years in the royal compound in Jeddah. .(AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool, File)
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has died after losing his battle with pneumonia The Saudi Royal Court reports.
In this Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, right, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, during their meeting at the Saudi Royal Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. (AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool)
In this Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, second left, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, right, after a meeting at the Saudi Royal Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. (AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool)
FILE-- In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 file photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, applauds French President Francois Hollande, left, after presenting him with the Order of Merit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over the United States’ Mideast policies, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending 2013 with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength. (AP Photo/SPA, File)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, right, in Riyadh, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. Seeking to bridge multiple policy rifts with Saudi Arabia, Kerry hailed the kingdom's role as "the senior player" in the Middle East on Monday. Speaking to employees at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh ahead of meetings with Saudi Arabia's king and foreign minister, Kerry said Saudi Arabia had assumed the Arab leadership mantle from Egypt, which is currently distracted by major domestic uncertainty. He said strengthening the U.S.-Saudi partnership is critical to Mideast security and stability and cementing tentative political transitions around the region. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 file photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, left, awarded by Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, with the prestigious Order of Omayyad, the highest national medal in Syria, at al-Shaab Presidential pPalace in Damascus, Syria. In the eyes of many, Assad is a murderous autocrat who would do anything to cling to power. But for his supporters, he is a nationalist hero fighting Western imperialism, a stabilizing presence who ensures a secular rule in a turbulent region wracked by sectarian wars. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
FILE - In this March 28, 2014 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Saudi King Abdullah about a coalition to tackle the extremist Islamic State group, at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia. U.S. Arab allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are discussing creation of a military pact to take on Islamic militants, with the possibility of a joint force to intervene around the Middle East, The Associated Press has learned in Nov. 2014. Even if no joint force is agreed on, the alliance would coordinate military action, aiming at quick, pinpoint operations against militants rather than longer missions, officials said. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has passed away at the age of 90, after spending several weeks in the hospital.
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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AP) - President Barack Obama will shorten his trip to India and divert to Saudi Arabia, paying respects after the death of King Abdullah and meeting with the oil-rich nation's new monarch, the White House said Saturday.

The scheduling shift, announced just before Obama left Washington, underscores the desert kingdom's pivotal role in U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the military campaign against the Islamic State group.

Saudi Arabia's status as one of Washington's most important Arab allies has at times appeared to trump U.S. concerns about the terrorist funding that flows from the kingdom and about human rights abuses.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama would meet on Tuesday with King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and other officials to "offer his condolences on behalf of the American people."

The president called Salman from Air Force One to express his sympathies on the passing of his older brother. The White House said the king welcomed the news that Obama would be traveling to Riyadh.

Obama's pivot comes two weeks after the White House faced criticism for not sending a high-level representative to Paris for a peace rally in the wake of terrorist attacks in France. The White House later said it was a mistake that someone with more stature than the U.S. ambassador to France had not joined the dozens of world leaders who marched arm in arm through the boulevards of Paris.

White House officials said Obama's stop in Saudi Arabia was not influenced by the Paris misstep, but it could keep similar criticism at bay as other world leaders head to Riyadh to offer condolences.

Obama's willingness to visit Saudi Arabia, a country with ties to the terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks, could give critics a fresh reason to question why the president did not stand with Western allies in a symbolic show of defiance against violent extremism.

The schedule change meant that Obama, who was due to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday morning local time, would skip a visit to the Taj Mahal, India's famed white marble monument of love.

46 PHOTOS
Obama in India - updated 1/25
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Obama to cut short India trip to visit Saudi Arabia
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug after they jointly addressed the media following their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for the media prior to their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Seizing on their personal bond, Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi share a lighter moment over tea in the gardens of Hyderabad House where the leaders held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Seizing on their personal bond, Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama was welcomed like royalty Sunday in India as he opened a three-day visit aimed at turning his burgeoning rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi into progress on climate change, defense and economic issues. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for the media before they held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Seizing on their personal bond, Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
President Barack Obama throws rose petals as he participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Raj Ghat Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they have tea and coffee in the gardens of the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stroll through the gardens of Hyderabad House where the leaders held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama and Modi say they have achieved a breakthrough understanding to free up U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sit down for tea after a stroll in the gardens of Hyderabad House where the leaders held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama and Modi say they have achieved a breakthrough understanding to free up U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama inspects a Guard of Honor during a ceremonial reception at the Indian Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama is the first American leader to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sit down for tea after a stroll in the gardens of Hyderabad House where the leaders held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hand with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as first lady Michelle Obama stand beside them, upon arrival at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama folds his hands in a traditional Indian greeting gesture, as Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, center, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi laugh during a ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama is the first American leader to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they step out of Air Force One upon arrival at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama folds his hands in a traditional Indian greeting gesture during a ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama is the first American leader to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
US President Barack Obama, foreground right, looks to the next guest as he, first lady Michelle Obama and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee participate in a receiving line before a State Dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama, right, first lady Michelle Obama and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, left, stand during the US National Anthem before a receiving line at the State Dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in a receiving line with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee before a State Dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama receives a scarf from a member of parliament who chairs the Committee on the Violation of Protocol Norms and Contemptuous Behavior of Government Officers, right, and reaches to hand first lady Michelle Obama a gift during a receiving line with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, left, before a State Dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sit down for tea after a stroll in the gardens of Hyderabad House where the leaders held their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT
U.S. President Barack Obama, left and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media prior to their talks, in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Seizing on their personal bond, Obama and Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of Ministry of Panchayati Raj move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of Indian State of Maharashtra move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of 'Make in India' move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of Indian State of Madhya Pradesh move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Contingent march past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: National Bravery Award winners move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of Department of Atomic Energy move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: BSF personnel make a tableau of 'Religious Unity' during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: School children perform cultural program during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Tableau of Ministry of Women and Child Development move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: 'Akash (Army Version)' move past during Republic Day full dress rehearsal, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: A view of full dress rehearsal of the Republic Day Parade at Red Fort road, on January 23, 2014 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26.(Photo by Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Worker putting up Indian and US flag at Teen Murti circle before US President Barack Obama visit to attend the Republic Day celebrations on January 23, 2015 in New Delhi. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26. (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Indian security personnel with a sniffer dogs patrol during Republic Day full dress rehearsal on January 23, 2015 in New Delhi, India. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend Indias annual Republic Day festivities marked on January 26. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Indian soldiers march down Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard that runs from Indian President's palace to war memorial India Gate, during the full dress rehearsal ahead of Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama will be the chief guest during this year's parade which will be held on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
An Indian shopkeeper displays a kite with portraits of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama at a shop in Mumbai, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Obama arrives in New Delhi on Sunday and will be the first American president to attend India’s annual Republic Day festivities marked annually on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An Indian worker wears an American flag before it is hoisted up a flag pole in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited U.S. President Barack Obama to be the first American president to attend India’s annual Republic Day festivities marked on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Indian artist Jagjot Singh Rubal gives final touches on a painting of U.S. President Barack Obama in Amritsar, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Obama arrives in New Delhi on Sunday and will be the first American president to attend India’s annual Republic Day festivities marked annually on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill)
An Indian shopkeeper puts thread in a kite with portraits of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama for sale at a shop in Mumbai, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Obama arrives in New Delhi on Sunday and will be the first American president to attend India’s annual Republic Day festivities marked annually on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Camel mounted Indian soldiers march down Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard, during full dress rehearsal ahead of the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S President Barack Obama will be the chief guest during this year's parade which will be held on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
Indian soldiers salute as they march down Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard that runs from Indian President's palace to war memorial India Gate, during the full-dress rehearsal ahead of Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama will be the "chief guest" during this year's parade which will be held on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
Indian women soldiers march down Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard that runs from Indian President's palace to war memorial India Gate, during the full dress rehearsal ahead of Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S President Barack Obama will be the chief guest during this year's parade which will be held on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters fly past during the full-dress rehearsal ahead of Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama will be the "chief guest" during this year's parade which will be held on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
Indian soldiers practice a march ahead of Republic Day parade celebrations in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama will be the "chief guest" at this year's parade, marked annually on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
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The rest of Obama's travel itinerary was to remain intact, including meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a summit with U.S. and Indian business leaders, and his participation in the annual Republic Day festivities marking the enactment of India's constitution.

Modi, who took office in May, surprised the White House by inviting Obama to attend the parade as his guest, the first time that honor has been bestowed on an American president.

Given Obama's commitments in India, the White House originally had said Vice President Joe Biden would travel to Saudi Arabia following the 90-year-old Abdullah's death on Friday.

Officials said that as plans for Biden's trip came together, they realized that the window for the U.S. delegation's visit coincided with Obama's departure from India, and they decided the president would make the four-hour flight from New Delhi to Riyadh.

In keeping with Islamic tradition, only Muslims attended Abdullah's funeral Friday. Other Western leaders were making plans to visit Saudi Arabia throughout the weekend.

Obama made an overnight visit to Saudi Arabia last March and met with Abdullah at his desert camp outside Riyadh. The king was in frail health at the time and appeared to be breathing with the help of an oxygen tank.

Saudi Arabia has been a stalwart U.S. partner in the Middle East for decades. But there have been signs of fissures during Obama's tenure, with the Saudi royal family growing frustrated with the White House's cautious approach to the Syrian civil war and skeptical of the president's diplomatic overtures to rival Iran. The U.S. has also become less dependent on Saudi Arabia for oil given production increases at home.

The fight against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria has brought about a more typical alignment between Washington and the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia is among five Arab nations that have assisted the U.S. in conducting airstrikes against the militants.

U.S. officials said Obama and the Saudis probably would discuss the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, where Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi quit under pressure from Shiite rebels known as Houthis. The rebels have been accused of receiving backing from overwhelmingly Shiite Iran, causing Saudi worries about being encircled by states influenced by Tehran.

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