Obama Sidesteps a Diplomatic Fuss
President Obama played host to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the White House.
One way to get around the whole bowing problem? Don’t let in the reporters until you’re already sitting down.
President Obama played host toÂ King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the White House on Tuesday but avoided the diplomatic trapdoor he fell through a year ago by greeting the monarch without cameras around to record whether he bowed first.
The president raised eyebrows and stirred criticism in April 2009 when he encountered King Abdullah at a summit meeting of theÂ Group of 20 nations in London. As Mr. Obama approached, he appeared to bow before the king. The White House later said he was simply taller than the king and leaning over to shake with both hands, but on the video, the bow looked deeper.
This time, the president and king were already in the familiar wingback chairs in the Oval Office when reporters and photographers were ushered in to record the event. The two leaders then spoke for a minute or two, giving the standard testimonial to Saudi-American friendship and reaffirmation of their joint interest in combating violent extremism, stopping Iran from building a nuclear weapon and advancing peace in the Middle East.
King Abdullah did give Mr. Obama a bit of a verbal bow, though. “Mr. President, I would like to share with you the views that I have been hearing about you from around the world,” the king said. “You are an honorable man and you are a good man. And I don’t say this in order to compliment you. I say this because this is the truth as I hear it from people around the world.”