Trump Praises Visiting Saudi Crown Prince, Focusing on Arms Sales

Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Downing Street London to meet Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May

Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Downing Street London to meet Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May

Trump is touting close U.S. -Saudi ties during an Oval Office meeting with visiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It's the first stop on a three-week tour of the United States by Prince Mohammed, son of King Salman and heir to the throne.

"The relationship is probably the strongest it's ever been". The Saudi de facto ruler burst in laughter.

"On the political level, the American president is trying to sell the crown prince to the American public, when Saudi Arabia's image is really bad", a senior political analyst said.

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

Ultimately, Saudi Arabia and Iran both weaponizing their nuclear programs could not only complicate the balance of power in the Middle East, but could prove detrimental to their respective security interests.

"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", Trump told reporters.

The Saudi prince is on a PR blitz covering several American cities.

As 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 for which Trump had publicly lobbied. On that issue, the royal family and the Trump family see eye-to-eye. And Saudi Arabia appreciates that.

Bin Salman was very happy that the Tuesday's meeting exceeded his expectations, which doubled the amount of investments between Saudi Arabia and the US.

In December, Saudi Arabia was able to intercept an Iranian missile launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, preventing it from entering Riyadh, potentially causing many casualties. The Senate rejected the resolution.

Senators voted 55-44 to kill the effort, which was aimed as a clear warning to the White House against signing a blank cheque. The conflict has led US lawmakers to propose a cutoff in support for a Saudi-led bombing campaign that has killed thousands.

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

But the most delicate discussions could be about Saudi Arabia's nuclear program, which is mooted as civilian-focused but could quickly become a platform for building a weapon.

He recently warned that if Iran gets nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia will follow suit.

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.

But if these niggles turn into full disputes, it is likely to be only behind closed doors.

During three weeks in the USA, the 32-year-old crown prince will also meet with businessmen in NY, tech mavens in San Francisco and entertainment bigwigs in Los Angeles.

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