Saudi King Says Trump Visit Will Strengthen Cooperation, Enhance Global Security
RFE/RL May 20, 2017
Saudi Arabia's king says the ongoing visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the kingdom will "strengthen our strategic cooperation" and help enhance global security and stability.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud made the comments in a May 20 message on Twitter as Trump was in Riyadh on his first foreign trip since taking office in January.
King Salman later handed the Trump Saudi Arabia's highest civilian honor, the King Abdulaziz medal, for "his quest to enhance security and stability in the region and around the world."
Bilateral relations have been strained by former President Barack Obama's rapprochement with Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.
However, Trump has been a fierce critic of the landmark nuclear deal in 2015 with world powers.
The accord resulted in significant limits on Tehran's most sensitive nuclear activities -- which many in the West believed were part of an effort to build atomic weapons -- in exchange for sanctions relief.
On May 21, the U.S. president will deliver a speech to dozens of leaders of Muslim states at a regional summit in Riyadh in which he is expected to call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance.
Multibillion-dollar deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia are expected to be signed during the trip.
Trump is accompanied on his visit by First Lady Melania Trump and several senior White House aides.
His eight-day tour will also include stops in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Italy.
The Trump administration has been hoping that the visits would help him reinforce close U.S. ties with key allies, particularly in the Middle East.
But the trip has been overshadowed by the deepening crisis surrounding the investigation into Trump's associates and their ties to Russian officials.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and the BBC
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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