Trump defends arms sales to Saudi Arabia after talks with Crown Prince

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Washington—President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised US defense sales to Saudi Arabia as a boost to American jobs after talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, lawmakers criticised Riyadh’s role in the war in Yemen where a humanitarian crisis has unfolded.

In Oval Office talks, Trump and Prince Mohammed discussed an agreement last year for $200 billion worth of Saudi investments with the United States, including large purchases of military equipment. Trump said the military sales contributed to the creation of 40,000 American jobs.

The talks were part of the first visit by the prince, 32, to the United States since he became the heir apparent last year to succeed King Salman.

Trump produced charts to show the depth of Saudi purchases of US military hardware, ranging from ships to missile defense to planes and fighting vehicles.

“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” he told reporters.

But as they talked, US senators debated a resolution seeking an end to Washington’s support for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen’s civil war. Some members of Congress have been critical of the Saudi campaign, particularly the humanitarian situation and civilian casualties.

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting to counter the influence of Iran, an ally of the Houthi militia, which denies any help from Tehran and says it is fighting a revolution against corrupt politicians and Gulf powers in thrall to the West.

When the crown prince visited London earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Britain signed a letter of intent to finalise talks on a multi-billion-pound order for 48 Typhoon fighter jets. Thousands of demonstrators protested outside the office of British Prime Minister Theresa May about the war in Yemen.

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