President Donald Trump met with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and it’s safe to say that the meeting went as well as anyone could hope for.
The Saudi delegation left the conversation in high spirits and later told the media that they believe Saudi-American relations had just reached a new “turning point.” They praised President Trump as a “true friend of Muslims” all over the world and argued that his policies would make everyone safer and more prosperous… not just Americans, but citizens of the world.
It marked a serious shift in the Saudi attitudes towards the United States, as the Saudi government had previously been VERY critical of the Obama administration’s efforts in the Middle East. In fact, as the United States moved away from Israel during the Obama years the Saudis seemed to realize that Israel was their best hope of keeping peace in the Middle East and have become closer friends with the Netanyahu government as a consequence.
In a statement Wednesday, the White House said that Trump and the prince “directed their teams to explore additional steps across a broad range of political, military, security, economic, cultural, and social dimensions to further strengthen and elevate the United States-Saudi strategic relationship” and to confront “Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”
The Prince and the President had a wide-ranging discussion that touched on various issues with the Saudis noting their agreement on several hot-button issues like the border wall and illegal immigration, Iran, terrorism, nuclear power and weapons, and the economy.
In particular the Saudis went out of their way to make the media understand that Donald Trump is not anti-Muslim, and that his travel ban is specifically designed to make America safer.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman discussed with President Trump the issue of banning some citizens from six countries from entering the United States of America and that His Excellency is closely monitoring this matter from the beginning. Saudi Arabia does not believe that this measure is targeting Muslim countries or the religion of Islam. This measure is a sovereign decision aimed at preventing terrorists from entering the United States of America. President Trump expressed his deep respect for the Religion of Islam, considering it one of the divine religions that came with great human principles kidnapped by radical groups.
At the same time, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman emphasized that information from Saudi Arabia confirms indeed the existence of a plot against the United States of America that has been planned in those countries in secret by those groups that took advantage of what they assume a security weakness to conduct operations against the United States of America. His Excellency expressed his understanding and support for this vital and urgent precaution measure to protect the United States of America from expected terrorist operations.
(You can read the longer narrated transcript of the President’s discussion with the Saudi Prince here.)
Hopefully, this meeting is just a taste of what is to come as President Trump’s foreign policy continues to take shape. More productive conversations like this one will go a long way towards easing the minds of Trump-skeptic Americans who worry that the President may not have the temperament or the foreign policy knowledge needed to do his job well.