Trump Kicks Off Saudi Visit With $110 Billion Weapons Deal
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (C) welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and first lady Melania Trump (R) to a tea ceremony in the Royal Terminal after they arrived aboard Air Force One at King Khalid Airport International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – RTX36OST
President Donald Trump kicked off his visit to Saudi Arabia Saturday by inking a $110 billion weapons deal effective immediately.
The deal as signed also calls for $350 billion in additional sales over the next ten years. A White House official described the deal as “a significant expansion of the over seven-decade long security relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
The official continued, “this package demonstrates, in the clearest terms possible, the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia and our Gulf partners, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defense industrial base.”
The large weapons deal is an attempt by Trump to shore up Saudi-U.S. support after relations soured under the Obama administration and increase its defense capabilities vis-a-vis Iran. Saudi Arabia was particularly piqued after Obama called them “free riders” off the U.S. in 2016 and overeager to drag the U.S. into sectarian conflicts in the Middle East.
The comments drew the significant ire from Saudi Arabia’s highest officials, who were eager to re-establish U.S.-Saudi relations under Trump. Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed Bin-Salman visited the U.S. in March to pitch the Trump administration on making its first international trip to the Kingdom.
Trump is scheduled to meet a large delegation of Arab leaders during his visit where he is expected to propose an Arab cooperative defense agreement, bolstered by the U.S. Trump is also expected to give a speech on Islam. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster previewed the speech to reporters saying it would be an “inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”
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