NEW DELHI: Monday was an eventful day in the world of international relations. The Saudi King’s absence from a summit later this week that is to be hosted by US President Barack Obama led to the rumour mill spinning with claims that Gulf states are displeased with what they think is US indifference to Iran’s regional power ambitions.

Saudi Arabia, that is currently bombing Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, believes that the Shia state’s support for -- in addition to Yemen -- militias in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, is a major factor for instability in the region. Ever since the Iran and world powers (known here as the P5+1, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) reached a framework agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme, whispers in the corridors have speculated on Saudi Arabia’s reaction.

The news that King Salman will not be attending the US-hosted regional talks was the final push needed, prompting newspapers across the world to publish stories on Saudi displeasure with the US. The reaction led to the White House scrambling to attempt to counter the rumours. The White House announced that Obama had spoken by phone to Salman on Monday, in a bid to show that relations were not tense. Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said the administration was convinced that the president would have "the right group of people around the table" at Camp David. "These are the people responsible for the security portfolios," he said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf rejected that notion that King Salman’s absence was a “snub” and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is "confident" that Saudi Arabia and other nations will be "ably represented" at the summit.

The two close allies share a 70 year alliance, tracing back to the the Saud family and descendants of Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahab, a prominent Hanbali Muslim cleric, who follow the most conservative school of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam. According to a Council for Foreign Relations background brief, “this pact has endured for centuries, influencing the country's domestic and foreign policy.” “The United States, first through its oil industry and then via government contacts, established a relationship with Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdulaziz, and his successors that evolved into a close alliance, despite a stark clash in values,” the backgrounder continues.

Oil, of course, is the main bond between the two countries. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest holder of crude oil reserves, producing, for instance, 9.68 million barrels of oil, and exporting 7.47 million barrels in January 2015. The cornerstone of US foreign policy in the region has therefore been protecting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil producers -- as it is doing in Yemen, where it is backing the Saudi-led coalition and exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

In fact, the Saudis official position for King Salman’s absence from the summit is the situation in Yemen. In a statement issued on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the summit coincides with a humanitarian cease-fire in Yemen, scheduled to start on Tuesday and continue for five days.

For the US, the support of the Gulf states is important. Obama needs the GCC -- made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman -- to show Congress that the Iran deal has broad regional support, especially as the US’ key ally in the region, Israel, is vehemently against it.