President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old Saudi royal looking to gain a stronger rapport with Washington, met with President Donald Trump today in the Oval Office and the two leaders spoke mostly of their successful business relationship as it relates to weapons the U.S. has manufactured and sold to the middle eastern nation.
Per the official White House transcript of the press conference, Trump gave dollar specifics on the business deals being made with Saudi Arabia.
Some of the things that have been approved…are currently under construction and will be delivered to Saudi Arabia very soon…for their protection. But if you look, in terms of dollars, $3 billion, $533 million, $525 million…$880 million, $645 million, $6 billion (that’s for frigates), $889 million, $63 million (that’s for various artillery).
Some of the things that we’re now working on and that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered:
- the THAAD system — $13 billion
- the C-130 airplanes, the Hercules, great plane — $3.8 billion
- the Bradley Vehicles — that’s the tanks — $1.2 billion
- and the P-8 Poseidons — $1.4 billion
And what it does is, it really means many, many jobs. We’re talking about over 40,000 jobs in the United States.
So we make the best equipment in the world. There’s nobody even close. And Saudi Arabia is buying a lot of this equipment, and a lot of people are at work making the equipment, not only for us — because we, as you know, we’re getting a $700 billion military proposal…we’re getting a $700 billion military plan this year, and 716 will be next year — $716 billion.
Trump also mentioned in his remarks that Saudi Arabia is “footing the bill” for some of the defense apparatus in the middle east, presumably against terrorist groups such as ISIS. But, as The Wall Street Journal noted in their report on the meeting between the two men, the two countries are also coming together to try to reach an agreement on what to do about Iran.
Across town, senators debating a contentious proposal meant to curb American military support for Saudi Arabia were shown a sobering image of a Yemeni toddler injured by an airstrike, one victim of Riyadh’s protracted war against Iran-backed militants.
The dissonant images captured the state of relations between Washington and Riyadh as the two countries confront obstacles to their efforts to strengthen ties and agree on new steps to counter Iran.
Some lawmakers, such as Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN) expressed their concern with the situation in Yemen, but bin Salman defended Saudi Arabia’s actions calling it “part of the country’s protracted battle with Iran.”
When asked in the Oval Office press conference by reporters what he hoped to accomplish regarding Iran, Trump had this to say:
Well, we’re going to see what happens. The Iran deal is coming up. It’s probably another month or so, and you’re going to see what I do. But Iran has not been treating that part of the world, or the world itself, appropriately. A lot of bad things are happening in Iran. The deal is coming up in one month, and you will see what happens.
The Saudi Prince was asked if the U.S. should pull out of the Iran deal. “Well, we’ll talk about that today,” bin Salman responded.
Part of the focus for Trump in hosting bin Salman is to finalize a deal to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis, a measure that has some in Congress pushing for assurances from Saudi Arabia that they will not seek to enrich uranium or produce plutonium. The Saudis have indicated they will not agree to such an assurances because Iran was given the go-ahead to enrich uranium in Obama’s 2015 Iran deal.
This is the first trip to the U.S. by bin Salman since he ascended the throne in June. After Washington, he will travel to New York, Las Angeles and Seattle among other destinations and has meetings scheduled with Google LLC, Apple Inc. and Lockheed Martin.