Trump hails arms sales to Saudi as he hosts Crown Prince

Saudi a 'great purchaser' from US: Trump

Trump meets with Saudi Arabia's crown prince

In opening remarks before a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump crowed about the sales, running through a list of $12.5 billion in approved arms purchases by Saudi Arabia and previewing billions more to come.

Siting side by side in the Oval Office, Mr Trump hailed his personal friendship with Prince Mohammed and the improved relations with Saudi Arabia forged under his administration.

President Donald Trump says Saudi Arabia has been a great friend to the United States and is a "great purchaser" and "investor" in its economy.

Salman's two-week stay in the USA includes a meeting with President Donald Trump and with US business and tech leaders.

He says that Saudi Arabia is "working very hard" to cut off that funding.

Nuclear energy co-operation is also high on the agenda.


The agenda will also surely include the White House's continuing efforts to develop a Middle East peace plan, an effort that appeared sidelined after Trump late previous year declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said he'd move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. Trump embraced the move, telling Prince Mohammed that "some tremendous things have happened" since he last visited the White House.

"On a regular basis we are engaging directly with senior leadership and we will keep those engagements in the next several weeks on a broad range of issues, increasing our coordination on Middle East regional issues, advancing shared strategic objectives and developing new channels and capabilities by which we can institutionalize each interact and make them more effective", the official added.

The political and investment news may help the crown prince distance himself from controversy following his decision to detain dozens of princes and members of the kingdom's business elite late previous year in what the government claimed was a crackdown on corruption.

But these broader ambitions do little to diminish concerns about the worsening of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, or about the potential American role in this trend. In June, it will be legal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Iran has variously taken the same stance toward the United States and has blamed both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for domestic unrest such as the mass protests that spanned all major Iranian municipalities in December and January.

Trump and the crown prince looked past that and other points of friction as they dined together in the Cabinet room, flanked by Vice-President Mike Pence, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a bevy of Cabinet secretaries. The crown prince is turning "Saudi Arabia into a normal country in which normal people lead normal lives", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters ahead of the visit. Trump will emphasize the importance of a strong and unified Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members include both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Many European policymakers remain fixated on the prospect of rebuilding economic ties to the Islamic Republic, regardless of perceived flaws in the JCPOA or in Western policies toward Iranian destabilization of the Middle East. Stock exchanges in NY and elsewhere are vying for the global listing of Aramco, the Saudi oil behemoth expected to go public soon.

In MBS, Trump will find a sympathetic ear for his calls to crack down on Iran, Saudi Arabia's archenemy, and strengthen a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran that former President Barack Obama and world powers brokered. Over the past nine months, Congress has approved United States dollars 54 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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