Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was recently warmly welcomed at the White House. President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia “a great friend” of the United States, and predicted ties between the two countries will grow.
Mr. Trump praised Saudi Arabia’s investments in the U.S., including its purchases of arms and military equipment which has contributed to the creation of 40,000 American jobs.
A readout by the White House of the meeting between the two leaders said they “discussed joint efforts to finalize new commercial deals that would support more than 120,000 American jobs and contribute to the success of Saudi Arabia’s economic reform agenda.”
That agenda includes a plan to wean Saudi Arabia off its long-time dependence on oil and to diversify by developing non-oil sectors. Toward that end, during his visit to the United States, Crown Prince Salman is meeting with business leaders to investigate opportunities in half a dozen U.S. cities.
Crown Prince Salman is attempting reform in Saudi Arabia’s social and cultural arena as well: under his direction, the ban on women driving has been lifted; women will be allowed to open their own businesses without the consent of their husband or a male relative; the powers of the religious police have been curtailed; and movie theaters will be opened again.
In addition, Crown Prince Salman says he is determined to promote a moderate form of Islam in an effort to defeat Islamist extremism. Under his leadership, the Kingdom is revamping its educational curriculum to ensure that extremist ideology is removed.
The White House noted that in the meeting between the two men, ISIS, Iran and Yemen were also discussed: “The Crown Prince thanked the President for American leadership in defeating ISIS and countering Iran’s destructive actions across the Middle East.” The two talked about the threat to the region posed by the Houthis, aided by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. And they spoke of the need for additional steps to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen, as well as for a political resolution to the conflict.
“We work closely with our Saudi partners to counter the threatening behavior of dangerous actors in the region,” Acting Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Heather Nauert noted, adding, “We look forward to further strengthening the U.S.-Saudi relationship and advancing our common security and economic priorities.”