Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with United States President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. Prince Mohammed, after the meeting with the president, called Trump "a true friend of Muslims."
Prince Mohammed met Trump to seek foreign investment as part of his nation's economic reform plan, and to discuss efforts to stop the Syrian civil war. He is the highest-ranking leader from Saudi Arabia to hold talks with Trump ever since the Republican assumed office in January.
The duo held talks in the Oval Office and posed for a picture. They, however, did not take any questions from the reporters present.
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"Prince Mohammed Bin Salman expressed, after the meeting, his satisfaction with the positive attitude and clarifications he heard from President Trump about his stance on Islam, which runs against what the media promoted about the President, stressing that his Excellency President Trump has an unprecedented and serious intention to work with the Muslim World and to achieve its interests and that Prince Mohammed considers his Excellency as a true friend of Muslims...," Bloomberg quoted a senior adviser to Prince Mohammed as saying.
Prince Mohammed, son of King Salman, is second in line to the Saudi throne and currently, acts as the defence minister of the country. However, much of his focus seems to be on economic issues.
Saudi Arabia is Arab world's largest economy and exports more oil than any other country in the world. However, future seems bleak for the nation after the global oil prices plunged in 2014, leaving the Saudi kingdom with a huge budget deficit and billions of dollars in debt to private firms, particularly construction companies.
The oil-dependent nation has begun preparations for the life ahead by pursuing its 'Vision 2030' economic diversification effort. The nation's goal is to broaden its investment and business base by placing more Saudis in the private sector than ever before. Prince Mohammed is the chief architect of Vision 2030.
"Relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion. However, today's meeting has put things on the right track, and marked a significant shift in relations, across all political, military, security and economic fields. All of this is due to President Trump's great understanding of the importance of relations between the two countries and his clear sight of problems in the region," the senior adviser added.
Saudi Arabia and the US have a decades-old relationship which is based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil. However, the relationship between the countries were strained during the Obama administration. Leaders in Saudi Arabia felt that Obama was hesitant to get involved in the Syrian civil war and was tilting towards Iran, Saudi's regional rival.
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However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said he feels positive about Trump's presidency and expects it to be more engaged in the region, particularly in restricting Iran. It's hardly been three months to Trump's presidency and his administration has already formulated sanctions against Iran over missile tests.
Reports state that the US vice-president Mike Pence, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, chief of staff Reince Priebus and strategist Steve Bannon were also present during the meeting with Prince Mohammed at the Oval Office on Tuesday.