President Donald Trump welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as a friend of the US and “great purchaser” of American armaments and investments.

“A lot of people are at work” because of Saudi Arabia’s business, Trump said, adding that the kingdom has finalized $12.5 billion in purchases of planes, missiles and frigates from US companies.

Prince Mohammed praised the kingdom’s “really deep” relationship with the US and said the Saudis are considering $400 billion in US investment opportunities.

“A lot of things could be tackled in the close future,” the prince added.

Prince Mohammed is starting a three-week trip across the US, his first visit since being designated the successor for his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. The US and Saudi Arabia are developing an increasingly close partnership, encompassing everything from isolating Iran to bolstering business ties beyond energy into technology, defense and entertainment, according to top US and Saudi officials.

The Trump administration has adopted a pro-Saudi posture that is a dramatic shift from the Obama administration, which was cool to Saudi Arabia’s autocratic rulers over a human rights record that remains abysmal, according to advocacy groups such as Amnesty International.

Trump has signaled he won’t seek to impose US values on countries that support American foreign policy and economic objectives – and Prince Mohammed arrives in the US ready to cut deals.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund announced on Monday that it would take a $400 million stake in Endeavor, one of Hollywood’s biggest talent and event managers. More deals are likely during Prince Mohammed’s trip, which runs through April 7.

One focus of Prince Mohammed’s meeting with Trump will be expanding cooperation to counter Iran’s influence in the Middle East, including the Islamic Republic’s alliance with Russia, according to White House officials who briefed reporters before the crown prince’s arrival. The agenda was also expected to include a discussion of Trump’s continued efforts to develop a Middle East peace plan. More


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