Saudi deputy crown prince heads to US for official visit, set to meet Trump

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman left the Kingdom on Monday for the United States where he is expected to meet President Donald Trump, according to an official Royal Court statement.

Prince Mohammed, who will begin the official trip on Thursday, will meet Trump and senior US officials.

The deputy crown prince will discuss bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation between the two countries.

In January, King Salman and the newly-installed US president discussed extensive coordination in combatting terrorism, establishing safe zones in Syria and deepening Saudi-American economic ties.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Visited U.S. last year

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Visited U.S. in June, 2016 to promote his country’s new plans for economic engagement and its foreign policy, a visit that came during a year marked by fraying U.S.-Saudi tensions.

A key focus for the visit wasthe kingdom’s public image, which suffered last year due to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and as Obama administration officials were more vocal in their critiques of the longtime U.S. ally.

Prince Mohammed met with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and other senior administration officials before he headed to Silicon Valley and New York, primarily for business engagements.

In meetings on Capitol Hill, Prince Mohammed focused on the Middle East, including Yemen, Iran, Syria and Iraq, according to lawmakers and aides. Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who along with the Senate Armed Services Committee met with Prince Mohammed, said the meeting was “a productive and open exchange.”

“Our main focus was our mutual security interests, including counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and the threat posed by Iran’s aggression in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the broader Middle East,” Mr. Cotton said.

Bin Salman met Obama in June

Former US President Barack Obama met Saudi deputy crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during his visit to the US in June at the White House and discussed ways to support Iraqis in their fight against Islamic State militants and the importance of a political transition in Syria, the White House said.

Obama met with Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval office for about an hour. The deputy crown prince’s visit to the United States was to repair frayed relations and to promote a plan, known as Vision 2030, to slash the kingdom’s dependence on oil exports.