Iran, Yemen in focus as Trump, Saudi crown prince meet

Adjust Comment Print

He is likely to rule for many decades if he succeeds his father.

Saudi Arabia's young crown prince has an ambitious list of to-dos: modernise his conservative kingdom, weaken Iran's hand across the Mideast and, this week, rehabilitate his country's image in the eyes of Americans. The prince will also travel to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston, where he will meet the leadership at different technology companies, including Google and Apple.

Trump is touting close U.S. -Saudi ties during an Oval Office meeting with visiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Instead, they focused on areas of easy agreement: Saudi investments in the U.S., American arm sales to the kingdom and sharp criticism of mutual foe Iran.

During an interview with 60 Minutes, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of hosting and supporting al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama Bin Laden's son, who is the new leader of the terrorist outfit. Saudi Arabia, a decades-long U.S. ally, felt neglected by President Barack Obama's pursuit of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Riyadh's regional rival.

"Well, we're going to see what happens".

Trump says Saudi Arabia is "footing a big part of the bill" for defense in the Middle East. Some tremendous things have happened for you since your last visit to the White House, when you were - when you were the Crown Prince, and now you're beyond the Crown Prince.

Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, had access to the briefing, a highly sensitive intelligence update meant to be seen by only the president and his top advisers, before being stripped of his top-secret security clearance last month.

Crown Prince Mohammed and Kushner have forged a close relationship, which has at times come under criticism in Washington for circumventing normal diplomatic channels.

MBS, the crowned prince of Saudi believes in maintaining the US-Saudi alliance which started more than 80 years back.

As the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne began his PR offensive, however, Congress was debating reducing military aid to Saudi Arabia because of alleged atrocities in the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia joined The Blackstone Group in May 2017 in a $40 billion fund to invest in stateside infrastructure projects.

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting to counter the influence of Iran, an ally of the Houthis, who deny any help from Tehran and say they are fighting a revolution against corrupt politicians and Gulf powers in thrall to the West.

Although the U.S. has welcomed MBS's determination to purge pervasive corruption in Saudi Arabia, including by royals, the Trump administration hasn't endorsed his tactics. He said he was restoring the more tolerant, egalitarian society that existed before Saudi Arabia's ultraconservatives were empowered in 1979.