Saudis call Trump meeting a ‘turning point’ after ‘period of divergence’

by WorldTribune Staff, March 15, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signaled a “meeting of the minds” on many issues, including their shared view that Iran poses a significant regional security threat, the Saudis said.

“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 the crown prince said in a statement after the March 14 meeting at the White House.

President Trump greeted Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 14. /AP

The Saudis had viewed “with unease” their relationship with former President Barack Obama, “whom they felt considered Riyadh’s alliance with Washington less important than negotiating the Iran nuclear deal,” Reuters reported.

The Saudi leader also signaled support for some of Trump’s top issues.

On the temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, the adviser said Prince Mohammed did not regard it as one that was aimed at “Muslim countries or Islam.”

“Prince Mohammed bin Salman has stressed how bad and very dangerous the nuclear deal is on the region,” the adviser said.

“The President and the Deputy Crown Prince share the same views on the gravity of the Iranian expansionist moves in the region. Iran is trying to gain its legitimacy in the Islamic world by supporting terrorist organizations.”

The senior adviser said Prince Mohammed “expressed his satisfaction after the meeting on the positive position and clarifications he heard from President Trump on his views on Islam.”

The adviser also said the leaders discussed the “successful Saudi experience of setting up a border protection system” on the Saudi-Iraq border which has prevented smuggling.

“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,” Prince Mohammed’s adviser said.

U.S. officials said Trump was considering ending Obama’s suspension late last year of the sale of U.S.-made precision-guidance munitions to the Saudis, which the Obama administration said was due to thousands of civilian casualties from Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen.

The State Department has approved the sale of guidance systems made by Raytheon Co., which awaits a final White House decision, the officials said.