Iran, Yemen in focus as Trump and Saudi crown prince meet

Posted March 26, 2018

Citing an unnamed source, The Intercept reported that Jared Kushner discussed classified information from the president's daily briefing with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who then bragged that he had Kushner "in his pocket".

"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 and in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world".

The crown prince, in a rare foray into speaking English, said on Tuesday 20 March, 2018, that the Saudi pledge for $200 billion in investments would end up at $400 billion when fully implemented.

"He (bin Salman) could not use such amateurish lies to hide the role of Saudi Arabia's government and leaders in creating the most unsafe terrorist groups in modern history and in major terrorist incidents like the September 11 (attacks)", Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency.

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Since Trump took office a year ago and visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip, Riyadh and Washington have strengthened ties and sought to work together on mutual goals involving Iran, such as curbing its rising influence in the Mideast. Some tremendous things have happened for you since your last visit to the White House, when you were - when you were the Crown Prince, and now you're beyond the Crown Prince.

"And, as you know, Mr. President, from day one you've reached this office, we've planned to tackle $200bn for opportunities in the next four years, but it end up with $400bn for opportunities", MBS said.

The crown prince is also due to meet with members of the U.S. Congress, some of whom have been critical of the Saudi campaign in Yemen, particularly the humanitarian situation and civilian casualties.

Later Crown Prince Mohammed met with Republican Senators Dan Sullivan, Tom Cotton, and Lindsey Graham, along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, in talks which the Saudi embassy said showed the "multidimensional" nature of the Kingdom's relations with the US.

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince is promoting himself as a social and an economic reformer, reinventing his kingdom for the modern era. The two are similar in age - Kushner is 37, while MBS is 32 - and the Trump aide sees the prince as a key ally in curbing Iran. Saudi Arabia was accused of attempting to bring down Lebanon's government, which is strongly influenced by Iranian proxy Hezbollah. "Iran has not been treating that part of the world, or the world itself, appropriately".

While in Washington, the crown prince is holding separate meetings with a long roster of influential US officials, including the secretaries of defense, treasury and commerce, the Central Intelligence Agency director and congressional leaders from both parties. Still, Trump's administration doesn't want Congress to cut assistance for Saudi-led operations there, warning that without USA help, civilian deaths would only increase.

A senior White House official said that the meeting was expected to discuss the Gulf crisis, with Trump urging MBS to solve the issue with Qatar very soon.

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