SAUDI ARABIA: $380bn deals signed by Trump in Riyadh

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Saudi-US deals worth at least $380 billion were struck on Saturday during the historic visit to Riyadh by US President Donald Trump, officials said.

King Salman and Trump held high-level talks in the Saudi capital, where they co-signed the Saudi-US “Joint Strategic Vision Declaration,” as a series of defense, business and technology deals were agreed in the Saudi capital.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that Trump’s visit marks “the beginning of a turning point” in relations with the Arab world.

Speaking at a press conference held with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Riyadh on Saturday, Al-Jubeir said that the strategic partnership agreement by King Salman and Trump would develop into a strong strategic partnership.

“The two countries have signed a series of agreements, both by private, commercial entities and inter-governmental, including on investment and infrastructure,” said Al-Jubeir.

“The value of the deals exceeds $380 billion; they will be executed over the next 10 years and will provide many opportunities both for the Kingdom and for the United States.”

Tillerson said that over 20 licenses were issued to large US companies helping direct investment between the two countries, which will result in the creation of thousands of jobs for Americans, an increase the purchase of US goods, equipment and technologies, and also benefit Saudi Arabia.

US conglomerate General Electric announced earlier on Saturday that it had also signed agreements and memorandums of understanding worth $15bn.

Defense played a key element in the myriad deals announced in Riyadh on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia and the US signed arms deals worth approximately $110 billion, the White House announced on Saturday.

Several other multi-billion-dollar deals were sealed at the inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum, also held on Saturday.

They included a landmark $6 billion defense and armament agreement under a “letter of intent” to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters.

The agreement, which was revealed during the forum, is expected to support around 450 jobs in the Kingdom.

“At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marillyn A. Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

“We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the US and in the Kingdom.

The agreements will directly contribute to His Majesty’s Vision 2030 by opening the door for thousands of highly skilled jobs in new economic sectors.”

Energy — one of Saudi Arabia’s strongest sectors — witnessed a number of announcements with a combined $22 billion worth of new deals signed during the forum by Saudi and American executives in the oil and gas industry.

A major funding boost for the largest oil refinery in the US was among a number of announcements in refining and petrochemicals signed on Saturday at the forum.

Saudi Aramco-owned Motiva Enterprises announced a landmark investment in the US totaling $12 billion with a likely additional investment of $18 billion by 2023.

It is estimated the deal will create approximately 2,500 additional jobs in the short term and a further 12,000 by 2023.

Announcing the deal at the Saudi-US CEO Forum, Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said:

“Today we are investing in long-term job creation and the future of the refining industry in the United States, and we are delivering on Vision 2030 to expand the US-Saudi partnership.

“The message is clear: the longstanding bonds between our two countries are reinforced by both the value and scale of today’s agreement.”

Following his participation in the forum, Nasser also announced several agreements with suppliers including Jacobs, Honeywell and McDermott.

The deal came at the start of Trump’s eight-day foreign tour that will also take him to Jerusalem, the Vatican and meetings with leaders in Europe.

The president and first lady Melania Trump were welcomed by Saudi King Salman as they disembarked at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Saturday morning.

After a welcoming coffee ceremony, Trump and his entourage were brought to the royal court where the president was awarded the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour.

Trump held talks with King Salman and was to meet the kingdom’s two crown princes on Saturday, before giving a speech on Islam to leaders of Muslim countries on Sunday.

For Riyadh the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.

The arms sale agreement was just one of a series of deals to be announced during the visit [EPA/Saudi Press Agency handout]

Trump’s speech on Sunday to dozens of Muslim leaders has been touted as a major event – along the lines of a landmark address to the Islamic world given by Obama in Cairo in 2009.

The speech will be especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations and accusations of anti-Islamic rhetoric on the campaign trail.

The next leg of Trump’s trip will be Israel. After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Trump will see Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, part of his efforts to revive the long-stagnant peace process.

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