Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a marathon tour of the United States on Tuesday by soaking in praise from US President Donald Trump, who championed close economic ties and increased military sales to the Saudis as he hosted the young heir to the throne in the Oval Office.
Trump and the crown prince looked past the two nations’ differing views about waging war in Yemen as they came together for an Oval Office meeting and working lunch. Instead, they focused on areas of easy agreement: Saudi investments in the US, American arm sales to the kingdom and sharp criticism of their mutual foe: Iran.
Trump sounded an ominous note as he looked ahead to a decision in May about whether to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, loathed by both Trump and the Saudis.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Iran has not been treating that part of the world, or the world itself, appropriately. A lot of bad things are happening in Iran.”
Prince Mohammed dodged a shouted question on the Iran deal, but waxed optimistic about prospects for closer economic ties amid “new waves of opportunities in different areas.”
“The opportunities are very huge,” Prince Mohammed said in English.
In a major Saudi shakeup last year, Prince Mohammed pushed aside his older and more experienced cousin to become first-in-line to his father’s throne, setting himself up to control Saudi policy for decades to come. Trump embraced the move, telling Prince Mohammed that “some tremendous things have happened” since he last visited the White House.
“Your father made a very wise decision,” Trump said.
While in Washington, the crown prince will hold separate meetings with a long roster of influential US officials, including the secretaries of defense, treasury and commerce, the CIA chief and congressional leaders from both parties. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt, who are drafting Trump’s long-awaited Mideast peace plan, will also join the crown prince for dinner Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said.