Saudi prince's White House visit continues Kushner courtship

Credit Flickr  MANILA BULLETIN
Credit Flickr MANILA BULLETIN
Author

26 March, 2018

On May 20th, 2017, Trump signed a US$350-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The prince will also travel to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston, where he will meet the leadership at different technology companies, including Google and Apple.

He added, "I thought your father made a very wise decision".

The Crown Prince said, "We are the oldest ally of America from the Middle East with more than 80 years of alliance and big interests - politically, economically, security".

Trump and the crown prince underscored the strength of US-Saudi ties which suffered under the Obama administration.

It's an honor to have the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia with us, and his representatives, many of whom I know and I met in May when we were over there, where a promise of $400 billion was made by Saudi Arabia for the purchase of our equipment and other things.

At the White House, Trump repeated his description of the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by Obama, as the "worst deal ever". And that was a very incredible two days, and we appreciate the investment in our country.

Iran signed an agreement with the United States and five other powers in 2015, freezing all enrichment activities for 10 years - an agreement that Trump, and, as of this week the Crown Prince, called "flawed".

CROWN PRINCE BIN SALMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.

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Asked whether he was prepared to pull the United States out of the deal, Trump said "we're going to see what happens".

While in Washington, the crown prince will hold separate meetings with a long roster of influential USA officials, including the secretaries of defense, treasury and commerce, the Central Intelligence Agency chief and congressional leaders from both parties.

After discussing the arms sales, Trump suggested that the United States could soon extricate itself from Middle East conflicts after years of involvement in Iraq and Syria.

Prince Salman, in particular, has been closely identified with the three-year-old war in the Arab world's poorest country, which started while he was defense minister.

But "there is a growing sentiment on the right and left that we should hold Saudi Arabia more accountable" for its abysmal human rights record, conduct overseas and continued funding of Islamic extremist groups, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna told the New Statesman. Still, Trump's administration doesn't want Congress to cut assistance for Saudi-led operations there, warning that without USA help, civilian deaths would only increase.

A senior Trump administration official said the two leaders talked about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and that civilian casualties "did not come up in a major way", given that Washington had been working with the Saudis to minimize them.

A noticeable cooling between the United States and Riyadh during the Obama administration, which culminated in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, prompted Brookings to describe the relationship as "rocky", while the Financial Times called it "toxic".

He hailed the military sales as a boost to American jobs.


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