US President Barack Obama was set to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict, diplomatic overtures towards Iran and oil prices with King Abdullah when he started a tour to the Middle East and Europe in Riyadh yesterday.
Saudi Arabia is the first stop on a tour that will take Obama to Germany, France and Egypt, where he plans to deliver a much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world.
Al Qaeda's second-in-command urged Egyptians on Tuesday to reject Obama's visit, calling him a criminal.
The US hopes Saudi Arabia will play a moderating role in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and counter price hawks such as Iran after oil prices hit a seventh-month high, threatening prospects of an imminent global economic recovery.
Obama said he would raise the issue of oil prices with Abdullah and planned to say the big price rises are not in Riyadh's interest.
Saudi Arabia, with more than one-fifth of global crude reserves, wants to hear how serious Obama is with plans to lower US dependence on Middle East oil and diversify energy resources away from fossil fuels, analysts say.
"The growing realisation among Saudi officials that the Obama administration means what it says when it talks about diversifying ... might soon begin to create tensions in the bilateral relationship," political risk agency Eurasia Group said in a note.
Obama said he would indicate to Abdullah that the US did not plan to eliminate its need for oil imports in the immediate future.
Abdullah is expected to express his worries that Obama's diplomatic overtures to Iran might rejig regional relationships at Riyadh's expense, diplomats and analysts say.
Saudi Arabia wants Obama to get tough with new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has balked at Palestinian statehood and rebuffed US calls to halt settlement building.
"I don't think Saudi-US relations will suffer but they might go through difficult times if the administration is not willing to come up with a new policy, a new plan," said Khaled Dakhil, a politics professor at King Saud University.
There was no room for more concessions beyond a 2002 Arab peace plan promoted by Abdullah and offering Israel recognition in return for withdrawal from Arab land occupied in 1967 and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees, Dakhil said.
Saudi rulers believe the collapse of Middle East peacemaking has given Iran opportunities to expand its regional influence through Sunni Islamist groups such as the Palestinian Hamas as well as its traditional Shi'ite Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. - Sapa