The United States, grappling with how to counter the spread of Taliban militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, is turning to Saudi Arabia for help. But so far the kingdom seems wary of diving into the thorny conflict.

Pakistan will be on the agenda when President Barack Obama meets with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Wednesday, according to Mark Lippert, deputy national security adviser.

Obama''s defense secretary, Robert Gates, has already asked the Saudis for help in staving off the spread of militants in Pakistan and encouraging Pakistani officials to work together in countering the terrorist threat.

"Saudi Arabia clearly has a lot of influence throughout the entire region, and a long-standing and close relationship with Pakistan," Gates said after a visit to the kingdom last month.

Many experts say the Sunni Arab powerhouse could be crucial in mediating some form of reconciliation with the Islamic extremists wreaking havoc in both countries. Saudi Arabia could also help cut off large sums of money that flow to militants from wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities.

Saudi Arabia has historical ties with the Taliban. The kingdom and Pakistan worked together to facilitate the rise of the radical Islamic movement in the 1990s and they, along with the United Arab Emirates, were the only countries to recognize Taliban rule in Afghanistan.