Saudi snub? Royal family skips Obama's arrival

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Saudi Snub? Royal Family Was Absent From President Obama's Arrival

President Barack Obama landed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, but his welcome crew at the airport probably wasn't what he expected.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman didn't greet the president at the airport, nor did any senior members of the royal family. Instead, he was greeted by the local governor.

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"These two leaders have been drifting apart, have dissimilar doctrines and strategically view things in a much different light. And that is straining everything. And I think what we saw at the airport today is symbolic of that," a CNN international editor said.

Obama did meet with King Salman to kick off his visit to Saudi Arabia. The two leaders discussed a variety of topics, including the fight against ISIS, social challenges in the region and Iran's recent actions.

See photos from the visit:

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Saudi snub? Royal family skips Obama's arrival
U.S. President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One upon his arrival at King Khalid International Airport for a summit meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Saudi King Salman at Erga Palace upon his arrival for a summit meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
RIYAD, SAUDI ARABIA - APRIL 20: US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at Erga Palace in Riyadh, on April 20, 2016. During his two-day visit, Obama is to attend a Gulf summit. (Photo by Pool / Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (C-R) shakes hands with Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdelaziz al-Saud, Governor of Riyadh, as he arrives at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, on April 20, 2016. / AFP / Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (2nd L) is greeted by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia at Erga Palace in Riyadh, on April 20, 2016. Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit hoping to ease tensions with Riyadh and intensify the fight against jihadists. / AFP / Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
RIYAD, SAUDI ARABIA - APRIL 20: US President Barack Obama (L) meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at Erga Palace in Riyadh on April 20, 2016. During his two-day visit, Obama is to attend a Gulf summit. (Photo by Pool / Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Saudi soldiers stand guard during U.S. President Barack Obama's arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Obama is expected to meet with King Salman and attend a meeting of Gulf Arab heads of state of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries during his two-day visit to the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
U.S. President Barack Obama waves to Saudi officials on arrival to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Obama is expected to meet with King Salman and attend a meeting of Gulf Arab heads of state of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries during his two-day visit to the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabia's King Salman walk to President Obama's motorcade after meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The president began a six day trip to strategize with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, England and Germany on a broad range of issues with efforts to rein in the Islamic State group being the common denominator in all three stops. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama is greeted as he arrives on Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The president began a six day trip to strategize with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, England and Germany on a broad range of issues with efforts to rein in the Islamic State group being the common denominator in all three stops. to the left of the president is U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Joseph W. Westphal. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabia's King Salman walk together to a meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The president begins a six day trip to strategize with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, England and Germany on a broad range of issues with efforts to rein in the Islamic State group being the common denominator in all three stops. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Most of the Gulf Arab monarchies have in private been sorely disappointed by Obama's presidency, regarding it as a period in which the United States has pulled back from the region, giving more space to their arch rival Iran to expand its influence.

Obama met for two hours with Salman and a group of top princes and officials at the opulent Erga palace, a meeting that had been forecast to be awkward.

Obama was recently quoted in a U.S. magazine interview commenting on the "complicated" nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and describing some some Gulf and European states as "free riders" who called for U.S. action without doing enough themselves.

This is Obama's fourth trip to the country. He hosted King Salman at the White House in September of last year.

(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Angus McDowall for Reuters; Editing by William Maclean and Dominic Evans for Reuters)

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