Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Trump praises Saudi crown prince over economic ties

Senate hands Saudi Arabia key victory, hours after crown prince met with Trump Trump showed off Saudi Arabia's massive US military buys in giant charts — here's everything that's on them
Lisa Bryan | 21 March, 2018, 08:14

The Crown Prince's meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday is a tremendous opportunity to make progress on a range of issues and strengthen bilateral relations, a senior USA administration official said.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman touched down in Washington on Monday, his first visit to the USA as heir to Saudi Arabia's throne.

Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they're going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world.

WASHINGTON-At 32 years old, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman controls a vast fortune, a well-heeled military and the future of a nation in the throes of sweeping economic and social change.

Officials said Trump will also seek to negotiate an end to a simmering dispute between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar, a key USA ally the Saudis accuse of helping to finance terrorism.

From Washington, the theme turns more to business than politics, with an itinerary that will take the crown prince from Washington to Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.

Trump has personally signaled substantial interest in expanding relations with the Saudis, having arranged a more than 100 billion dollar weapons sale previous year, as well as setting the stage in recent weeks for the sale of American nuclear energy technology to the Sunni kingdom.

Iran's influence in the Middle East is one topic that was discussed. Both sources described the efforts as part of a bid to keep the USA as a party to the JCPOA by addressing President Trump's concerns over flaws and omissions in an agreement he has described as the "worst deal ever".


The Saudi Crown Prince, who looked embarrassed throughout the process, had no other choice but to smile at the President "joke".

Ultimately, mutual dependence will probably keep USA and Saudi relations as strong as ever.

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.

The news was accompanied by expressions of concern about a United States law that exposes Saudi Arabia to legal action over the 9/11 attacks, which Riyadh would dearly like to see removed.

Their talks at the White House were part of the first visit by the prince to the United States since he became the heir apparent last June to succeed King Salman. Breaking with tradition, Trump even made his first foreign trip as president to Saudi Arabia last May.

But an all-out PR campaign created to burnish the crown prince's image, and declarations that "relations have never been better", mask several problems that could spoil the honeymoon. Over 10,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia started to support the Yemeni government in its fight against Houthi rebels in 2015. "We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal".

Saudi Arabia is also reportedly in talks with Google's parent company Alphabet to build a tech hub in the Middle East, and has discussed licensing with Apple and Amazon to bring USA tech to the region.

As Prince Mohammed arrived in Washington, word trickled out that Saudi Aramco - the kingdom's energy behemoth - was cooling on the idea of a stock listing in NY, something Trump has publicly lobbied for. Over the past nine months, Congress has approved United States dollars 54 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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