Monday, May 15, 2017

Trump aims to tighten ties with Saudi Arabia on his first official stop overseas - washingtontimes

President Trump’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia is a clear sign that the White House is allying itself with Riyadh, as regional power plays between the kingdom and Iran continue to polarize the Middle East.

Making Saudi Arabia his first overseas visit as president, Mr. Trump is breaking with recent White House tradition of the inaugural trip being in the Americas or to one of Washington’s European allies. Critics claim the visit is designed to offset anti-Muslim rhetoric that played so heavily into Mr. Trump’s election campaign and fueled two hamstrung efforts to institute a travel ban from several majority-Muslim countries.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., praised the decision during a speech last week, telling a counterterrorism symposium at the Middle East Policy Council in Washington that it reinforces the solid diplomatic and national security ties between Washington and Riyadh going back decades.

The Trump White House’s decision is also seen as a rebuke of the Obama administration’s efforts to warm up to Iran and strike a nuclear pact that Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he will dismantle, and which Riyadh also opposed as ineffectual.

Critics of the deal say it has left Washington and the international community unable to enforce United Nations-passed efforts to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

While the Middle East street may view Mr. Trump’s visit to the kingdom as choosing sides in the regional tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, National Security Adviser H.M. -More

Trump aims to tighten ties with Saudi Arabia on his first official stop overseas


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