Trump hails arms sales to Saudi as he hosts Crown Prince

21 March, 2018, 08:13 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Princess Hassa bint Salman sister of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and daughter of King Salman allegedly ordered her bodyguard to beat up a worker at her Paris flat in 2016

Trump is touting close U.S. -Saudi ties during an Oval Office meeting with visiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 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.

He gave CBS's 60 Minutes an interview, which aired on Sunday, doing his best to come off as a progressive leader, and Saudi officials have been doing the rounds with USA media to emphasize Saudi Arabia's disdain for Iran, its chief rival in the region.

For the USA, it's a dramatic turn from the Obama administration, which was cool to Saudi Arabia's autocratic rulers over a human rights record that remains abysmal, according to advocacy groups such as Amnesty International.

Trump and Prince Mohammed discussed an agreement previous year for $200 billion worth of Saudi investments with the United States, including large purchases of USA military equipment.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince is promoting himself as a social and an economic reformer, reinventing his kingdom for the modern era.

On foreign policy, Mr Trump said: "We are working seriously with to stop the financing of terrorism".

Not so with Trump, who has taken a hardline view against Iran similar to that of the Saudi crown prince who has compared Iran's supreme leader to Adolf Hitler.

Countries can work with the U.S. to address a common security challenges in a way that can be much more efficient but also more effective, and hopefully bringing these conflicts to a resolution, the official said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is furious about the embassy announcement, pre-emptively rejected the Kushner plan in a speech on Monday in which he called the American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a "son of a dog".

"This is not the real Saudi Arabia", MBS said when asked by CBS News about the repressive version of Islam many outsiders associate with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia, a decades-long U.S. ally, felt neglected by President Barack Obama's pursuit of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Riyadh's regional rival.

"This is not the real Saudi Arabia", Prince Mohammed said recently about the repressive version of Islam many outsiders associate with the kingdom. Trump will emphasize the importance of a strong and unified Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members include both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. "There's opportunities within that for the partner to provide, be a key interlocutor, if you will, so that there's no misunderstanding between the USA in Pakistan to convey not just messages, but also to identify opportunities for both parties to help them", a senior administration official said.

"Your father made a very wise decision", Trump said.

Vice President Pence will host Prince Mohammed for dinner on Wednesday and he is expected to also meet Defence Secretary James Mattis and Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo.

The high-profile tour and meetings with top officials across government signals a relationship between two nations that's nearly unrivaled since Trump took office in January 2017. The hotel was also where Trump was granted a king's welcome when he visited the country.

He said he was restoring the more tolerant, egalitarian society that existed before Saudi Arabia's ultraconservatives were empowered in 1979.

The announcement will likely come to light later in the week and before Crown Prince Mohammed leaves Washington for Boston on Saturday. More than $35 billion of deals could be announced during the trip, according to a National Security Council official.

The report follows criticism of President Emmanuel Macron by rights groups and French lawmakers over his support for the coalition, opaque arms sales and inadequate safeguards to prevent its weapons being used in Yemen operations.

In a major Saudi shakeup past 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.

After a week of meetings in Washington, Crown Prince Muhammad will head to the U.S. financial center in NY where he will also meet United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

At the same time, though, MBS has sought to consolidate power by reigning in Saudi Arabia's extensive royal family and business community.



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