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Trump Touts Arms Sales To Saudi Crown Prince, Discusses Iran


U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman meet in Riyadh in May 2017.

President Donald Trump has praised U.S. defense sales to Saudi Arabia at a meeting with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman at the White House, where the two discussed simmering tensions with Iran.

During the March 20 meeting, the powerful Saudi crown prince, who is likely to succeed King Salman, spoke with Trump about their perceived flaws with the Iran nuclear deal and countering Iran's involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts.

Since Trump took office last year and visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip, Riyadh and Washington have strengthened ties and sought to work together on mutual goals involving Iran, such as curbing its rising influence in the Mideast.

"We’re going to see what happens," Trump said when asked about either changing or scrapping the nuclear deal.

"But Iran has not been treating that part of the world or the world itself appropriately. A lot of bad things are happening in Iran. The deal is coming up in one month and we’ll see what happens," he added.

Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the nuclear accord unless European allies and the U.S. Congress agree by May 12 to fix what he called its "disastrous flaws" and impose tough new restrictions aimed at curbing Iran's ballistic-missile development and its involvement in regional conflicts.

Tehran denies charges that it interferes in regional affairs and has objected to changes Trump is seeking in the nuclear agreement.

Saudi Arabia has opposed the deal since it was signed in 2015 by Iran and five world powers, saying it did not go far enough to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

As the 32-year-old crown prince met with Trump, the U.S. Senate rejected a resolution seeking an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen's civil war.

During debate before the vote, some backers called the three-year conflict a "humanitarian catastrophe," which they blamed on the Saudis.

The United States is a major provider of weapons to Saudi Arabia and has given intelligence and logistical support to the Sunni-ruled kingdom in Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting to counter the influence of mainly Shi'ite Iran, an ally of the Huthi rebels who deny any help from Tehran and say they are fighting a revolution against corrupt politicians and Persian Gulf powers who are controlled by the West.

In a Persian New Year message on March 20, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country had defused all regional threats against it.

"Last year, the Islamic republic defused regional threats -- one of their aims was to harm the Islamic republic," Khamenei said in a broadcast on state television. "These threats did not damage our country, but turned into opportunities."

Trump used an annual message to Iranians and others celebrating the spring festival of Norouz to sharply criticize Iran's government, saying that he believed the Iranian people are burdened by "rulers who serve themselves instead of serving the people."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, IRNA and AFP
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