Trump praises USA military sales to Saudi, fetes crown prince

21 March, 2018, 08:14 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Saudi crown prince departs Riyadh for two-week US visit

Washington, D.C, March 20 (BNA): Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that the visit of HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to the United States will focus on discussing many files, including Iran, Yemen and Syria, in addition to Iraq, Libya and the fight against terrorism.

Sitting side by side in the Oval Office, Trump said, "We've become very good friends over a very short period of time", and produced charts to show the depth of Saudi purchases of USA military hardware and what he said were the number of American jobs they are providing.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the chamber's Foreign Relations Committee, said senators questioned the crown prince closely about Yemen during a meeting with him on Tuesday.

During the meeting he held with the Saudi Crown Prince following the official reception in the Oval Office, the American President reemphasized what his administration expects from Saudi Arabia. The two countries are developing an increasingly close partnership, encompassing everything from isolating Iran to bolstering business ties beyond energy into technology, defense and entertainment, according to top US and Saudi officials. In announcing Tillerson's firing, US President Donald Trump cited apparent differences of strategy over the Iran nuclear deal as a major rationale.

In a press conference at the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Monday, Jubeir said the Crown Prince would visit seven cities, including Washington, New York, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and possibly Seattle.

The two have fostered a close relationship for months, White House officials tell CNN, but, to date, it is Prince bin Salman - known more informally as MBS - who has taken his charge and looked to remake the country he will likely someday lead.

But he's also asserted power in the Middle East in an altogether new way for a Saudi monarch, detaining some of his country's richest and most powerful men in a stunning anti-corruption campaign that netted over $100 billion.

The US has been in quiet talks with Saudi Arabia to enhance its nuclear program, which it has said may be used to develop nuclear weapons in response to its rival Iran.

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"It really means many many jobs.we're talking about over 40,000 jobs for the United States", Trump said. (This would include Raytheon, a USA defense contractor, being allowed to sell $7 billion worth of "smart bombs" to Saudi Arabia).

Trump praised the king's move to elevate Mohammed and called U.S. -Saudi ties strong as ever.

Still, US opinion of the oil-rich country has improved, in part due to Trump's public stance on Saudi Arabia. In addition to White House meetings, the Crown Prince will meet Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and congressional leaders from both parties.

As the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne began his PR offensive, however, Congress was debating reducing military aid to Saudi Arabia because of alleged atrocities in the war in Yemen.

Trump: We'll see what happens...but Iran has not been treating that part of the world or the world itself appropriately.

Since then, presidents George W. Bush, Obama and now Trump have relied on the order's authority, along with a subsequent AUMF in 2002, as the basis for operations against armed Islamist groups.

They also discussed nuclear cooperation.

In a major Saudi shakeup previous year, Prince Mohammed pushed aside his older and more experienced cousin to become first-in-line to his father's throne, setting himself up to control Saudi policy for decades to come. Over the past nine months, Congress has approved Dollars 54 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Breaking with tradition, Trump even made his first foreign trip as president to Saudi Arabia last May.

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