Trump starts Saudi trip with massive arms deal

The White House announced a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia yesterday as US president Donald Trump took his first steps on the world stage. The $110 billion deal for Saudi purchases of US defense equipment and services came at the start of an eight-day foreign tour that will also take Trump to Jerusalem, the Vatican, and meetings with leaders in Europe.

The arms package include a pledge by the Kingdom to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, in a $6 billion deal expected to result in about 450 jobs in the kingdom. The military package also includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology. National oil giant Saudi Aramco was also expected to sign $50 billion worth of deals with US companies, part of a drive to diversify the Kingdom’s economy beyond oil exports, Aramco’s chief executive, Amin Nasser said. US technology and engineering conglomerate GE said it has signed $15 billion worth of agreements with Saudi organizations.

As well as talks with King Salman, Trump met the Kingdom’s two powerful crown Princes before giving a speech on Islam to leaders of Muslim countries. For Saudi, the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor, Barrack Obama who Arab Gulf States suspect of a tilt toward their regional rival, Iran.

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