WASHINGTON, March 21, (KUNA): US President Donald Trump praised relations with Saudi Arabia, saying “we really have a great friendship” and described it as a “great friend.” Speaking to reporters at the Oval Office with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, Trump said “I would really have to say 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 think will probably only get better.”
At the top of the meeting, Trump held up two presentation boards, one board titled “12.5 billion in finalized sales to Saudi Arabia” displaying photos and details of military equipment that Saudi Arabia has purchased from US manufacturers. The other showcased sales that were still pending. “It really means many many jobs … We’re talking about over 40,000 jobs for the United States,” Trump noted. He added that “Saudi Arabia is buying a lot of this equipment … and a lot of people are at work making this equipment.”
On defense, Trump said “we’re talking about defense, and we’re working very hard with Saudi Arabia. And they’re also footing a big part of the bill for the whole Middle East.” He stressed “we know what’s happened in the Middle East. And it has not been a pretty picture for the United States or for anybody. And a lot of things are changing, and they’re changing very rapidly.”
Trump also lauded efforts to contain the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, saying “we’ll be able to get out of certain areas that we’ve wanted to get out of for a long time and other countries can handle it, at this point they’ll be able to to handle it.” “There will we zero tolerance for the funding of terrorism,” Trump stressed, adding that “Saudi Arabia has been working very hard on that as are certain other countries in the Middle East,” he remarked.
Furthermore, Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room ahead of the working lunch with Prince Mohammed that the relationship with Saudi Arabia “is probably the strongest it’s ever been. We understand each other.”