Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his 20-day visit to the United States with a three-hour meeting with President Donald Trump that addressed their shared concerns over Iran and also investments of billions of dollars.
Both leaders stressed the strength and potential of Saudi-US ties before sitting down for talks with their officials.
On a personal note, the prince may find himself in a more exalted position than the previous monarchs in the eyes of a US president because the current occupant of the White House is man seemingly hell-bent on outdoing all his predecessors in his devotion to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Sitting side by side in the Oval Office, President Trump hailed his personal friendship with Crown Prince Mohammed and the improved relations with Saudi Arabia forged under his administration.
We’ve become very good friends over a fairly short period of time,” President Trump boasted during a photo-op before his meeting with the crown prince at the White House on Tuesday. “The relationship was, to put it mildly, very strained during the Obama administration. And the relationship now is probably as good as it’s really ever been and will probably only get better.”
"We support President #Trump's policies, with regards to Iran, completely. We believe they are the right policies. We believe that Iran is a danger to the world." — Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir #SpecialReport pic.twitter.com/w1oRNkEh1b
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 20, 2018
President Trump displayed charts showing Saudi military purchases ranging from ships to missile defense to planes and fighting vehicles from the US at more than US$12.5 billion as he touted investments and economic co-operation with the Kingdom. “We are bringing back hundreds of millions of dollars into the United States… over 40,000 jobs,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” he said.
On his part, MBS seized the opportunity to display his knowledge of the alliance between the two countries.
“We are the oldest ally of America from the Middle East,” he said, “with more than 80 years of alliance and big interests – politically, economically, security. The foundation of the relation[ship] is really huge and deep.”
Last year, the two leaders agreed on a plan for $200bn worth of Saudi investments with the US, including large purchases of US military equipment.
However, in Tuesday’s meeting, Bin Salman said the plan exceeded expectations, doubling the number of investments between Saudi Arabia and the US.
Prince Mohammed, also during the course of his trip will be soliciting $35 billion in American investment to accelerate his plan to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure — part of his laudable Vision 2030 plan, which sets in motion plans to modernize the kingdom and diversify its source of revenue far away from oil.
While crown prince MBS is on a state visit to the US, @KattyKayBBC asks what does he want from the Trump administration? Arabia Foundation's @aliShihabi answers on @BBCWorld. pic.twitter.com/BkUv5MDDeP
— Arabia Foundation (@ArabiaFdn) March 22, 2018
Much of the itinerary on his two-week trip is outside of Washington. He plans to travel to New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Houston, visiting companies that include Apple, Google, and Lockheed Martin.