Saudi Arabia, frustrated by what it apparently regarded as policy setbacks over Syria, Iran and Palestinian statehood, abruptly canceled its turn to speak this week at the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, diplomatic officials and Arab news agencies reported Thursday.
They said it was the first time that the Saudis, who are strong American allies, had scrapped that opportunity to state their positions on world affairs, not even submitting a written statement in lieu of a speech.
Diplomatic officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter, said Saudi Arabia opted not to participate partly because it did not want to publicly criticize the Security Council over what the kingdom had judged to be a weak response to the conflict in Syria and the use of chemical weapons there.
The Council unanimously approved a resolution last Friday aimed at pressuring the Syrian government to keep its promise to give up its chemical weapons. But the measure does not automatically threaten military force for noncompliance and does not specifically call for the Syrian government to be held criminally accountable for the use of chemical weapons, notably in a mass killing outside Damascus on Aug. 21.
The news agency Al Arabiya said the Saudis were also angry over the lack of progress in settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue about as old as the United Nations itself.
Attention to Palestinian statehood aspirations seemed to be overshadowed at the General Assembly gathering this year -- not just by a preoccupation with the Syria conflict, but by the focus on the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, who created a diplomatic stir with a series of interviews and meetings that ended with an extraordinary phone conversation with President Obama.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals in the Middle East, and they support opposite sides in the Syrian conflict.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, had been scheduled to deliver his country's speech on Monday. No explanation was given for the cancellation, and efforts to contact Saudi diplomats by telephone at the country's United Nations mission were unsuccessful.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.