Friday 21 July 2017

Donald Trump signs $110bn arms deal hours after landing in Saudi Arabia

QatarÕs Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
QatarÕs Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are welcomed by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at Al Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Picture taken May 20, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS.
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexandra Wilts

The US and Saudi Arabia have reached a $110bn-plus arms deal, significantly expanding the longstanding security relationship between the two countries, the White House has said.

Hours after landing in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, the President’s first stop on his foreign trip, Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman signed a series of agreements that included a military sales agreement of about $110bn, effective immediately, plus another $350bn over the next decade.

The White House said this package of defence equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia in the face of Iranian threats.

Alongside the United Arab Emirates, the Middle Eastern country is currently conducting a military campaign in neighbouring Yemen against Houthis, a rebel group believed to be financially and militarily supported by Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are welcomed by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at Al Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Picture taken May 20, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are welcomed by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at Al Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Picture taken May 20, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS.

Mr Trump appears to be taking a tougher stance on Iran compared to his predecessor Barack Obama, pleasing Saudi Arabian officials. The Obama administration halted some arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year out of concern that the weapons would be used to bomb civilians in Yemen. The Trump administration has freed up those weapons, which are part of the $110bn package, the New York Times reported.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Saudi Arabia is the top destination for US arms, with the kingdom purchasing about 10 per cent of US exports from 2011 to 2015.

The latest arms deal will also improve Saudi Arabia’s ability to fight terrorism, the White House said, reducing the burden on the US military to conduct counter-terrorism operations in the Gulf region.

“This package demonstrates, in the clearest terms possible, the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia and our Gulf partners, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the US defense industrial base,” a statement said.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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