Senior White House official tells it is close to completing a series of deals to boost Saudi defense capabilities, as Trump readies for journey next week
The United States is close to completing a series of limbs deals for Saudi Arabia totaling more than $100 bn, a senior White House official said on Friday, a week ahead of Donald Trumps planned visit to Riyadh.
The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the arms package could end up outdoing more than $300 bn over a decade to assist Saudi Arabia boost its defensive capabilities while still maintaining US ally Israels qualitative military boundary over its neighbors.
We are in the final stages of a series of deals, the official said. The package is being developed to coincide with Trumps visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump leaves for the realm on 19 May, the first stop on his maiden international trip.
Reuters reported last week that Washington was pushing through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others already in the pipeline, ahead of Trumps visit.
Toward the end of the Obama administration, the US was preparing to halt some planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia over concerns of high civilian death tolls in the kingdoms bombing campaign in Yemen.
In December, Obama administration officials were quoted as went on to say that the systematic, endemic problems in Saudi Arabias targeting drove the US decision to halt a future weapons marketing involving precision-guided munitions.
The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military wants, from F-1 5 fighter jets to command-and-control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Trump has vowed to stimulate the US economy by boosting inventing jobs.
The package includes American limbs and upkeep, ships, air missile defense and maritime safety, the official said. Well learn a very considerable commitment … In many lanes it is intended to build capabilities for security threats they face.
The official added: Its good for the American economy but it will also be good in terms of building a capability “thats right for” the challenges of the region. Israel would still preserve an edge.
While in Riyadh, the official said Trump would attend three major events: a series of meeting with Saudi officials, a separate session with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and a lunch with Arab and Muslim presidents, 56 of whom have been invited, to discuss combating extremism and cracking down on illicit financing.
Trump will discuss how to counter the threat from Islamic State militants, the campaign in Yemen and menaces of ballistic missile and maritime shipping in the Red Sea, the official said.
US navy officers have accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by harassing warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Gulf Arab governments are optimistic about Trump whom they see as a hawkish president opposed to their adversary Iran.
A major part of the agenda with Gulf presidents will be the Syrian civil campaign amid calls for de-escalation zones in Syria to provide a haven for Syrian refugees.
Besides Saudi Arabia, Trumps first foreign journey will also include visits to Israel, the Vatican, Brussels for a Nato summit and Sicily for a Group of Seven summit.