Can you say, war on women?

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (NYT) — In his first meeting with Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarch since becoming secretary of state, John Kerry sought to reassure the king on Monday that the Obama administration and the Saudis shared common objectives on Syria, Iran and Egypt. […]

Mr. Kerry also assured the Saudis that he would regularly inform the kingdom about developments in the talks that the United States and other world powers are conducting with Iran on its nuclear program “so there are no surprises” — another public pledge noteworthy mainly for the fact that it needed to be made to a close ally.

Seeking to persuade the Saudis that the Obama administration does not take them for granted, Mr. Kerry, in an appearance at the American Embassy here earlier on Monday, described the kingdom as “the senior player” among Arab nations, a notion he reinforced when, at his news conference, he called Saudi Arabia an “indispensable” partner.

(Wary of inflaming Saudi sensitivities, Mr. Kerry sidestepped a reporter’s question about whether Saudi women should be allowed to drive, casting the debate as one “best left to Saudi Arabia.”)

Even the best efforts by American and Saudi diplomats to frame reports of their disagreements as news media hype, however, could not mask their deep differences over how to bring an end to the civil war in Syria.

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