Obama Visits Saudi King Before Muslim Speech

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President Barack Obama will be in Egypt Thursday for a highly-publicized address to the Muslim world.  Wednesday, he landed in Saudi Arabia about the same time Osama bin Laden was releasing a new message about the U.S.

The president stepped out of Air Force One into the 108 degree Saudi Arabia heat Wednesday morning, and was greeted royally by King Abdullah-- the keeper of Islam's most holy mosques.

"I also want to express my best wishes to the friendly American people who are represented by a distinguished man that deserves to be in this position," he said.

CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck has more after Jennifer Wishon's report.

Saudi Arabia is a stopover on the president's route to Cairo, Egypt where he'll deliver his speech Thursday.

But Obama was expected to use the time to continue negotiations with the king over the future of some 100 Yemeni detainees locked up at Guantanamo Bay.

The president wants them sent to terrorist rehabilitation centers on Saudi soil.

In Cairo, Egyptians are already decorating for the president's visit.  At Cairo University, where the president will speak, exams have been postponed and security heightened.  At the old market, t-shirts that read "Obama New Tutankhamon of the World," hang on merchant's stands.

The president is expected to tell Muslims democracy and the freedoms of speech and religion are universal principles they too can embrace.

As President Obama began his goodwill tour, Osama bin Laden released an audio tape saying the president fanned hatred for the U.S. when he ordered Pakistan to crack down on Taliban militants in the Swat Valley along the Afghan border.

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck says it's evidence that while Obama's speech may win him support with mainstream Muslims, radical leaders view it as a sign of weakness.

"Among al Qaeda it doesn't matter what President Obama does really," he said.  "At the end of the day whether the president is a Republican, a Democrat, Liberal or Conservative at the end of the day, to the radicals he's just another infidel."

In a separate message accompanied by pictures of the president visiting the wailing wall in Jerusalem, bin Laden's number two lieutenant Egyptian eye-man al-Zawaheri recently called Obama a "criminal" and said the speech will do nothing to change the "bloody messages" the U.S. military sends through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.