Did Obama mix up his Saudi kings during charm offensive?

US President Barack Obama meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (centre) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington May 13, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US President Barack Obama meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (centre) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington May 13, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - When President Barack Obama wooed two Saudi princes at the White House on Wednesday he paid tribute to decades-long ties between the United States and the Arabian kingdom, but did he get his history in a twist?

"As all of you are aware, the United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to Franklin Roosevelt and King Faisal," he said.

The United States did indeed establish full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in 1940, during Roosevelt's presidency.

Five years later, when Roosevelt was returning from Yalta, the first meeting between a Saudi King and a sitting US president took place - on board the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal.

But the king who walked onto the normally spartan deck, now "covered with Oriental carpets and gold-gilded chairs" according to one contemporary account, was not King Faisal, but King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud.

King Abdul Aziz is considered the founder of modern Saudi Arabia and was the father of King Faisal, who did not rule until 1964, almost 20 years after Roosevelt left office.

The White House did not comment on apparent slip.