Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia Will it mark a new phase in Arab-American diplomatic endeavours?

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By:Amira Elhamy

 Trump’s visit early Saturday of this week to Saudi Arabia comes as part of a nine day – five country trip, where he was accompanied by a senior team and was received by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman. The visit to Saudi Arabia comes as part of an ambitious agenda of diplomacy, and to sign a number of agreements and investment opportunities between the two countries.

The American President signed during his visit agreements over $400 billion, and according to Saudi Gazzette the agreements and investment opportunities, will contribute to knowledge transfer, and create thousands of job opportunities in both countries.

Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged two memorandums to modernize and revamp Saudi defense capabilities. An agreement of partnership to manufacture Black Hock choppers in the Kingdom was exchanged by Prince Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed, Chairman of Board of Directors of Saudi Corporation for Development and Technological Investment, & President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation Marillyn A. Hewson. Four agreements in the field of military industries were exchanged. A memorandum of understanding in the field of technology, an agreement in the field of power generation, two agreements in the field of manufacturing high value products, two agreements in the fields of technology and infrastructure, as well as, an agreement to establish an Ethylene plant in the US was also exchanged.

Terrorism was the major point Trump addressed during his first visit outside the US; according to Standard Examiner, President Donald Trump met with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in an effort to counter the financing of terrorism. The White House adviser Dina Powell reported that a memorandum of understanding signed by the U.S. and GCC nations represents the “farthest reaching commitment” to not finance terrorist organisations. She says it includes a pledge to prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals. Along with the U.S., the participants include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On the second day of his visit, Trump delivered a speech to leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries, including Egypt:     terrorism topped the gathering’s agenda, and according to The New York Times President Trump pivoted away from his strident assessment of Islam as a religion of hatred as he sought to redefine American leadership in the Middle East and rally the Muslim world to join him in a renewed campaign against extremism. Addressing dozens of leaders from across the Muslim world who had gathered in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump rejected the idea that the fight against terrorism was a struggle between religions.

One of the most significant topics examined during the US President speech was Iran; where he called for isolating Iran, underlining that “it fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in the region.

It is to be noted that Trump held bilateral talks with the Arab leaders of Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait. During his talks with Egypt’s president, Donald Trump praised the Egyptian President, pointing out that “safety seems to be very strong”.  The US president further accepted an invitation from President Sisi to visit Egypt; and said  “We will absolutely be putting that on the list very soon; there are “some very important talks going on with Egypt”, Trump said.

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