WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama hosts youthful Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on Friday (Saturday in Manila), underscoring his guest’s meteoric rise and increasingly pivotal role in strained US-Saudi ties. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama would meet the 30-year-old deputy crown prince, who has become the driving force behind economic reform and a more activist Saudi foreign policy. King Salman’s son, who is his country’s defense minister, has met the very biggest of Washington’s big hitters during a week-long visit. He held talks with the CIA director, the secretaries of state, defense and treasury, as well as leading members of Congress. The White House said Prince Mohammed’s meeting with Obama will take place in the Oval Office—a rare honor for a non-head of state, one not afforded to the Dalai Lama earlier in the week.