President Trump hosts Saudi Crown Prince for official visit

World Today

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) speaks alongside members of his delegation during a lunch meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – Mohammed bin Salman – to the White House on Tuesday. It was the 32-year-old Crown Prince’s first official visit to the country as heir to the Saudi throne. The two took up an array of contentious issues.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also known as MBS, came almost one year after the U.S. president visited Riyadh. The Saudi Kingdom was Trump’s first foreign stop after he entered the White House, and the ruling royal family pledged to invest tens of billions of dollars in U.S. infrastructure projects, and to purchase American arms and military hardware.

In Washington, Trump touted the sales using posters and pictures.

“If you look in terms of dollars: $3 billion, $533 million, $525 million. That’s peanuts for you; we should have increased it,” Trump said.

Some of that will go toward the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen. Now, in its third year, a growing number of U.S. lawmakers are saying it must end.

Some will go to fighting ISIL in nearby Syria and Iraq. The Saudis playing what Washington considers to be a crucial role in its coalition.

And a large part will go to counter what both countries perceive to be the growing threat from neighboring Iran.

“We are here today to be sure that we’ve tackled all the opportunities and achieve it. And, also, get rid of all the threats facing our both countries and the whole world,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

The Saudi prince is on a PR blitz covering several American cities. It’s his first official visit to the U.S. since his father consolidated power last year and made Mohammed his heir-apparent.

Many in the West have welcomed MBS’s more liberal attitude back home in the religiously conservative kingdom.

He said he favors greater rights for Saudi women, like driving, and wants to reduce the overall power of the country’s clerics.

He’s pushing to diversify the Saudi economy away from its reliance on oil, and supports a crackdown on global terrorist financing and corruption.

Though, in November, a round-up of some powerful, wealthy players earned the Saudis a strong rebuke from Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State. On a visit to Riyadh the next month, Tillerson also criticized the Saudi’s for their involvement in Lebanon, and for leading a blockade on fellow Gulf kingdom, Qatar.

Tillerson is now out of the way. He was fired this month by Trump. And on Tuesday, the Saudi Crown Prince had dinner — not with Tillerson’s apparent replacement, but, rather, with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner is charged with leading the president’s greater Middle East strategy, which includes isolating Tehran. On that issue, the royal family and the Trump family see eye-to-eye.