Centerpiece of Trump’s Second Day in Saudi Arabia: Address to 50 Leaders

President Donald Trump’s second day in Saudi Arabia is filled with individual meetings with several leaders from the region and participate in a roundtable with the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

At his first meeting, with King Hamad Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, the president said there had been problems with the relationship between the two countries under previous U.S. administrations. 

There “has been a little strain but there won’t be strain with this administration,” Trump said.

Among those present with Trump were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.

But the centerpiece of the day, if not the visit, will be his address to leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries.

In that speech, he will urge them to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship” and it as a “battle between good and evil,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by the Associated Press.

Arms deals signed

On Saturday, Trump and his host, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz, signed a nearly $110 billion agreement to bolster the military capabilities of Saudi Arabia.

The defense deal, effective immediately, was one of a series agreements the two countries signed to enhance their military and economic partnerships, including a second defense pact with options valued at up to $350 billion over the next 10 years.

“It was a tremendous day,” Trump said while meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef at a Riyadh hotel. “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” the president said in a reference to the potential job creation opportunities the agreements provide.

The White House said in a statement earlier that the defense deals would create new opportunities for U.S. companies in the Middle East and support “tens of thousands” of new jobs in the U.S. defense industry.

The White House statement also said the deals would help the countries more effectively address common threats.

“This package of defense equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the kingdom’s ability to contribute to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations,” the statement said.

Included in the defense agreements is a $6 billion pledge to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to result in the creation of 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The military package also includes combat ships, tanks, missile defense systems and cybersecurity technology.

Additionally, American conglomerate General Electric said Saturday that it had signed $15 billion in agreements with Saudi organizations. Saudi Aramco said it expected to sign $50 million in deals with U.S. companies in an attempt to diversify the kingdom’s economy beyond oil exports.

Trump receives kingdom’s highest honor

Earlier Saturday, King Salman presented Trump with the kingdom’s highest civilian honor during a meeting at the Royal Court in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The two leaders also signed a vision statement vowing to work closely to combat terrorism as Trump’s wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner looked on.

After Trump and the others entered the court to the music of bagpipes, King Salman decorated him with the gold King Abdulaziz al-Saud Medal.

The trip began with King Salman greeting the Trumps at the airport. They walked along a red carpet into the Royal Hall, a terminal at the airport, where they talked briefly. Minutes later, the Trumps and the Saudi king left the airport in a motorcade, heading to the city along a route with deserted streets.

 



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