The US is trying to push through a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to capital Riyadh, according to a report.
The US President is set to visit the Vatican, Israel and Saudi Arabia this month, as part of his maiden international trip.
Speaking in Washington, Trump noted the religious symbolism of his trip to the Gulf monarchy - home to the two holiest sites in Islam -as well as the need to cooperate with Saudi Arabia on issues of security and counterterrorism.
“It is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries,” Trump said.
Saudi Arabia has called Trump’s visit, which will include a bilateral summit of Arab and Muslim leaders, as historic.
“It’s a clear and powerful message that the U.S. harbors no ill will toward the Arab and Muslim world. It also lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said following Trump’s announcement, according to Reuters.
Trump’s administration is keen to repair the relationship with the Kingdom following tensions caused by the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, reported The Independent.
The arms sales contracts are likely to comprise Lockheed Martin program packages with a Terminal Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system (photo) worth $1bn, a C2BMC software system, and a package with satellite capabilities, it stated.
Provided by BAE Systems, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an M109 artillery vehicle are also under consideration as part of the deal.
In addition, an $11.5 billion package made up of four multi-mission surface combatant ships, which had been approved by the US State Department in 2015 but never made it to final contract, will also be revisited, the report added.