A handout picture released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) chatting with deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the King Faisal Air Academy at King Salman airbase in Riyadh on January 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to meet US
President Donald Trump
. This will be the highest-level visit to Washington by a member of Al Saud royal family since November’s presidential election.
King Salman’s son, who is also the defense minister, left for Washington on Monday and his working visit would start on Thursday, a Saudi royal court statement said.
According to the statement, Prince Mohammed is expected to promote Saudi Arabia as an investment destination and “discuss reinforcing bilateral relations and review regional issues of mutual interest.”
The kingdom’s second-in-line to the throne — who is spearheading Riyadh’s economic overhaul, dubbed Vision 2030 — will also hold discussions on global energy prices and falling crude oil revenues to find ways to rid Saudi Arabia of dependence on oil money.
Economic analyst John Sfakianakis told Reuters that the focus of the visit would be “to showcase Saudi investment opportunities… the Saudi Aramco IPO as well as the reforms undertaken in the wider economic space.”
A brainchild of Prince Mohammed, the National Transformation Plan is Saudi Arabia’s nostrum for the looming end of the oil age. It is dubbed the most extensive and jarring economic shake-up of the country in decades, and includes plans to transfer ownership of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, most popularly known just as Aramco, to the Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund that can be used as a war chest for non-oil investments beyond the Saudi borders.
The trip takes place less than a year after the prince visited Silicon Valley to sell his vision of reforms.
Other key issues at the top of the agenda are likely to include the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been killing innocent people since March 2015. Over 12,000 have died since the onset of the invasion, which was launched in an unsuccessful attempt to bring Yemen’s former Riyadh-allied government back to power.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and biggest buyer of US-made arms, is also part of the coalition bombing campaign reportedly fighting against Daesh Takfiris in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been incapable of destroying Daesh.
A handout picture release by Saudi Royal Palace on December 14, 2016, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R), Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (C) and deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arriving for the opening session of the Shura Council in Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)
Another issue that may come up during the meeting between the prince and the opulent president is the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Saudi relations with Washington cooled under President Barack Obama after his administration secured the deal with Iran.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States
, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany started implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on January 16, 2016. Under the agreement, Iran accepted to put limitations on its program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Trump has repeatedly lambasted the deal, saying it is very convenient for Tehran, although he has toned downed his criticism significantly since he was hit hard by the realities of the world when he assumed office.
Eighty-one year-old King Salman is helping Prince Mohammed in his quest and is currently in Japan on a month-long tour of Asian countries to build ties with Riyadh’s fastest growing crude importers and promote investment opportunities, including the sale of a stake in Aramco. According to a White House statement, Trump spoke by telephone with Salman soon after he took office in January.
US President Donald Trump speaks by phone with the Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in the Oval Office. (Photo by Reuters)
Trump has created plenty of awkward situations so far, and miraculously managed to laugh his way out of them. Let’s see his meeting with the crown prince can be as awkward as the Saudi king’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Watch the following video in case you missed the good parts.