Trump touts 'great friendship' with Saudi Arabia

Mandel Ngan  AFP  Getty Images

Although the prince has won Western plaudits for seeking to ease Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil, tackle chronic corruption and reform the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom, the severity and secrecy of his anti-corruption crackdown last November unnerved some in the West.

During the meeting, a senior administration official said, the two leaders took up an array of thorny issues: Mr. Trump's coming decision on whether to rip up the Iran nuclear deal; Saudi Arabia's bitter dispute with its neighbor, Qatar; and the brutal civil war in Yemen, which has led lawmakers to propose a cutoff in American support for a Saudi-led bombing campaign that has killed thousands, New York Times reported. "Saudi Arabia", MbS says, "does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible".

Trump's focus on Saudi purchases of USA military equipment came amid a bipartisan effort to limit the United States' role in Yemen's civil war and protests in several US cities over the Saudi-led invasion, which has contributed to a humanitarian crisis.

Prince Mohammed is now in the United States, having already visited Britain earlier this month. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and White House envoy Jared Greenblatt, who are drafting Trump's long-awaited Mideast peace plan, will also join the crown prince for dinner Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said.

At the worldwide level, it is not surprising that the head of state or his deputy manage the economic and investment portfolio.

Bin Salman called Washington-Riyadh relations "really huge and really deep", saying his country has created 4 million jobs in the US directly and indirectly and noting "more opportunities" remain. His presence encourages worldwide companies to seriously invest in the Kingdom.

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat was to be out of the country during the event but planned to see the crown prince elsewhere, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The other point is answering investors' questions about foreign investment in the Kingdom.

During the March 20 meeting, the powerful Saudi crown prince, who is likely to succeed King Salman, spoke with Trump about their perceived flaws with the Iran nuclear deal and countering Iran's involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts.

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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 objective of the visits depends on the city itself.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in an interview with Reuters in Washington yesterday that his country may still move forward with an initial public offering on an worldwide exchange such as London or NY in the second half of 2018, despite previously raising doubts it could be delayed to next year. The US President previously stated that the US welcomes the launch of Aramco in the NY market.

During the meeting, the United States president displayed charts to show the depth of Saudi purchases of U.S. ships, missile defence, planes and fighting vehicles.

A Saudi exhibition will be held in Boston during the Prince's visit to the city under the supervision of several technical and educational Saudi bodies such as King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, King Abdullah Unversity of Science and Technology, Neom, and others. These partnerships aim to transfer science, technology and expertise from the USA to Saudi Arabia.

Still, The Post also reported last week that Trump had hit up the Saudis for $4 billion in order to "rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the US military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State" - part of his exit strategy from the warn-torn country.

The film industry alone is expected to bring almost $1 billion in the next five years, a figure that can be reached if life expectancy is taken into consideration in the kingdom.

Trump and the crown prince looked past the two nations' differing views about waging war in Yemen as they came together for an Oval Office meeting and working lunch.

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