After a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, the Deputy Crown Prince hailed the encounter as a “historical turning point” in U.S.-Saudi relations, emphasizing that the two leaders shared the view that Iran poses a regional security threat.
“This meeting is considered a historical turning point in relations between both countries and which had passed through a period of divergence of views on many issues,” a senior adviser to Prince Mohammed said in a statement.
“But the meeting today restored issues to their right path and form a big change in relations between both countries in political, military, security and economic issues,” the adviser said.
Also in attendance at the meeting that reviewed some of Trump’s most contentious issues since taking office on January 20 were Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, chief of staff Reince Priebus and strategist Steve Bannon.
Regarding the suspension of travel for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, the adviser said Prince Mohammed did not view it as being aimed at “Muslim countries or Islam.”
According to the senior adviser, Prince Mohammed “expressed his satisfaction after the meeting on the positive position and clarifications he heard from President Trump on his views on Islam.”
He also conveyed that the leaders discussed the “successful Saudi experience of setting up a border protection system” on the Saudi-Iraq border which has prevented smuggling and closely resembles Trump’s plan to construct a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border to prohibit illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing to the north.
The meeting clearly signaled the changing tide of the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as Prince Mohammed had a tense association with the Obama administration, especially after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
According to regional analysts, Prince Mohammed and other Gulf allies see Trump as a strong president who will reestablish Washington’s role as their main strategic partner and help contain Iran. Prince Mohammed views the nuclear deal as “very dangerous,” said the senior adviser. The White House has expressed that the deal was not in the best interest of the United States.
Late last year, Obama suspended the sale of U.S. made precision-guidance munitions to the Saudis after thousands of civilian casualties resulted from Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen.
According to U.S. officials, Trump is considering ending that ban and approving the sale of guidance systems made by Raytheon Co. to the Saudis. Officials said that the State Department has already approved the idea, which is awaiting final White House approval.
An anonymous source close to the situation said that one of the main topics of the Tuesday meeting was regarding Saudi investment in the United States, which could enable Trump to fulfill his promises of job creation.
“It’s the creation of jobs through investments–President Trump wants results and statistics matter for him,” said Ingrid Naranjo, an expert in U.S.-Saudi relations. “It makes a lot of sense for the diversification strategy of Saudi to invest abroad and especially in the U.S.”
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