Trump, Saudi Arabia prince bond over arms deals, hostility to Iran

Saudi Crown Prince to Visit White House Tuesday

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman doesn't do things by halves, and his meeting on Tuesday with President Donald Trump is just the beginning of a three-week United States tour.

But as Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, pointed out on the eve of the Crown Prince's visit, cooperation between the Saudis and the USA on defence and security issues is about much more than negotiating lucrative arms deals.

The Saudi crown prince bragged to the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and others that he had Kushner "in his pocket", an unnamed source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers told The Intercept.

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

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says that the United States and Saudi Arabia can tackle "a lot of things" together in the future.

The Qatar diplomatic crisis that has splintered the Gulf Co-operation Council, which brings together six monarchs of the Gulf, represents a major dilemma for the USA, says Ottaway.

However, in Tuesday's meeting, Bin Salman said the plan exceeded expectations, doubling the number of investments between Saudi Arabi and the US.

Trump gave a warm welcome at White House to the powerful Crown Prince and credited U.S. defence sales to the Saudis boosting American jobs.

In September, a large Saudi public university announced it would dismiss employees suspected of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, adding to concerns that the government is clamping down on its critics in academia and beyond. (Dan Kitwood/Associated Press) Congress has been pushing resolutions to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.




Referring to Mohammad Bin Salman-led changes in the Gulf state, Trump praised the young prince in his new role.

Trump has suggested he may break the agreement in May, prompting critics to say that any such move would spark a nuclear arms race in the region between the Saudis and the Iranians, who have threatened to disown the 2015 accord if the USA walks away.

One of the visit's highlights for the Crown Prince, who frequently talks of his admiration for Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc., will be his visit to Silicon Valley, where he will meet the heads of tech giants such as Apple and Google, all part of his plan to place Saudi at the forefront of technological innovation in the Middle East.

The US president also reiterated his opposition to Iran's nuclear deal reached under former president Barack Obama.

Trump's administration has been firmly behind the Sunni kingdom as it frames all its conflicts as part of a confrontation with Shiite Iran. In Yemen, the Kingdom says it is improving military targeting, opening up ports and pledging $1.5 billion in new aid. He said a political settlement in Yemen would protect Saudi Arabia and deny safe haven to terrorists.

In a December telephone call, Trump asked King Salman to contribute $4 billion to reconstruction and stabilization efforts in parts of Syria cleared of the Islamic State and thought he had gotten a Saudi commitment, The Washington Post reported last week.

The White House's support for the bloody Saudi war has also turned into a thorny issue in the US.

Prince Mohammed is starting a three-week trip across the United States, his first visit since being designated the successor for his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

"We're going to see what happens", Trump said.

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