Saudi crown prince to visit White House amid lingering Mideast tensions

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/3/13 13:30:37

The White House said on Monday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit the White House on March 20. The visit comes amid lingering diplomatic confrontations among the Gulf nations and reports that Saudi Arabia is in talks with the United States to buy its nuclear reactors.

In a statement, the White House said that US President Donald Trump "looks forward to discussing ways to strengthen ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia and to advance our common security and economic priorities."

Trump on Feb. 27 spoke with bin Salman over phone, when the two sides vowed to further enhance bilateral partnership on security and economic front.

Thanking the crown prince for boosting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) cooperation to counter Tehran's influence, Trump agreed with him on the importance of having a united GCC "mitigate regional threats and ensure the region's economic prosperity."

Last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism" and "undermining regional security" by seeking closer ties with Iran.

Qatar strongly denied what it called the "unjustified" and "baseless" accusations.

The standoff, rather than showing any signs of abating, has been exacerbated by Trump's remarks in June that Qatar had funded terrorism "at a very high level."

The Trump administration has reportedly been pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to the Middle East nation. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert only said in a press briefing that "Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest in possible US supply of nuclear equipment and material."

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday of a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

"Many countries in the Middle East are saying that they are also allowed to enrich uranium if Iran is allowed to do so; therefore, the way to prevent this danger, the nuclearization of the Middle East, is to either thoroughly correct the agreement or abrogate it," he said, reportedly referring to Riyadh.


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