President Donald Trump said on Saturday he appreciated Saudi
Arabia’s purchase of US military equipment, calling Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman a “friend of mine” who had worked to open up the country with economic
and social reforms.
“It’s an honor to be with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine – a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia,” Trump said ahead of a bilateral meeting with the crown prince.
“I think especially what you’ve done for women and seeing what’s happening – it’s like a revolution in a very positive way,” he added, speaking on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit.
“We’re trying to do our best for our country, Saudi Arabia, and it’s a long journey,” the crown prince said.
The Senate this month voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, rejecting Trump’s decision to sidestep Congress’s review of such deals by declaring an emergency over Iran.
Trump has promised to veto the Senate action.
The United States has blamed Iran for recent attacks on oil tankers in Gulf shipping lanes, which the Unites States is working with Saudi Arabia and other allies to protect.
Trump said Saudi purchases of military equipment supported at least 1 million US jobs, and appeared to exonerate the kingdom for any past acts of “terror”.
“For a long time there were questions as to whether or not Saudi Arabia and other countries were sponsoring terror,” said Trump, as he sat next to the crown prince.
“You have absolutely stopped and I really appreciate that and the world really appreciates it,” Trump said.