- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2015

President Obama will cut short his trip to India, traveling instead to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the new king, the White House said Saturday.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama has canceled a planned visit to the Taj Mahal in India with first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday.

Instead, the Obamas will travel to Saudi Arabia “to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” Mr. Earnest said.

The death of King Abdullah, 91, was announced Thursday. He was buried on Friday.

Saudi Arabia is a longtime ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, although relations between King Abdullah and the Obama administration have been strained over Iran and other issues.

Due to the change, Vice President Joseph R. Biden will remain in the U.S. instead of leading a delegation to Saudi Arabia as originally planned.

SEE ALSO: John Bolton on Yemen, Iran and Saudi king’s death: ‘This is an absolute disaster’

The president and his entourage departed Washington Saturday morning for India. During his visit, Mr. Obama will attend a State Dinner in his honor and hold meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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