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RIYADH May 18 U.S. President Donald Trump's
visit to Saudi Arabia this weekend will reinforce the "strategic
partnership" between Riyadh and Washington and boost their joint
fight against Islamist militants, the kingdom's foreign minister
said on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia has been enthusiastic about Trump's arrival at
the White House after seeing his predecessor Barack Obama as too
soft on its arch foe Iran and cool towards Washington's
bilateral relationship with Riyadh that is a mainstay of the
Middle East's security balance.
Trump's visit to Riyadh, the first stop on his maiden
international trip since taking office in January, will include
concluding political and commercial agreements with Saudi
Arabia, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.
"It will bolster the strategic partnership between the two
countries," he told a news conference.
"Saudi Arabia agrees with the U.S. administration's view in
relation to the role of the United States in the world and in
relation to uprooting terrorism," he added, referring to the
hardline Islamic State group and al Qaeda.
Jubeir said Riyadh and Washington were discussing several
"initiatives" related to arms sales, economic and security
cooperation and tackling terrorism.
"Several agreements will be signed, whether political
agreements... and big economic agreements," he said.
Riyadh backs Trump's efforts to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also agrees with Washington on
"confronting Iran's aggressive policies and its support for
terrorism", he said.
Saudi Arabia will be seeking assurances that the Trump
administration will continue its harsher tone towards Iran and
keep up pressure, through both rhetoric and action, to stop what
Riyadh sees as Tehran's destabilizing activities in the region.
The Trump administration has heavily criticised the West's
nuclear agreement with Iran that was backed by Obama. Senior
administration officials have also criticised Iran's support for
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile
activities and backing for militant groups in the region.
Apart from Saudi officials, Trump will also meet leaders of
the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and have lunch
with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia will use the opportunity of this gathering to
increase cooperation with countries opposing Islamic State in
Syria and Iraq, Jubeir said.
Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was not concerned about sharing
intelligence with the United States, despite a storm over
reports that Trump had discussed intelligence with Russia during
a White House meeting last week.
"We share a very, very large amount of intelligence with the
United States and vice versa," Jubeir said. "We have had no
hesitation about doing so and we will not have any hesitation
about continuing to do so."
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Katie Paul, writing by Katie
Paul; Editing by Gareth Jones)