King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

Updated 30 January 2017
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King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

WASHINGTON: In his first phone call to an Arab leader, US President Donald Trump discussed with Saudi King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud yesterday a full range of bilateral and regional issues, including extensive coordination in combatting terrorism, establishing safe zones in Syria and deepening Saudi-American economic ties.
The call which according to a White House official occurred at at 1:30 p.m. Washington time (9:30 p.m. Riyadh time) was attended at the oval office by Trump’s most senior advisers. The pool report noted that US national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law and trusted adviser Jared Kushner, the chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon as well as the White House spokesperson Sean Spicer were in the room. 
In a statement released by the White House few hours later, the Trump administration confirmed that the “two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding friendship and strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.” On the issues, Trump and King Salman “agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of radical Islamic terrorism and also on the importance of working jointly to address challenges to regional peace and security, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.”
On Syria particularly both leaders agreed “support safe zones in Syria and as well as other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts.” The phone call also discussed Iran, with mutual agreement “on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”
Bilaterally, Trump “voiced support for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic program and expressed a desire to explore additional steps to strengthen bilateral economic and energy cooperation.” The White House also confirmed that King Salman passed an invitation to Trump “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially, for the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region.” King Salman was also the first Arab leader to congratulate Trump in a statement after winning the election on November 9th.
Both world leaders extended invitations to boost bilateral ties and cooperation and agreed to schedule visits in the upcoming period.
President Trump also had a phone call with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Sunday during which they explored ways of enhancing bilateral ties, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that extremism and terrorism have no religion or identity and the groups that preach false slogans and ideologies seek to disguise their criminal intention in spreading chaos and destruction.
The two sides took stock of the latest regional issues and developments in light of the UAE and US’ vision regarding important ideas and initiatives that aim to put an end to the security and humanitarian deterioration in the region.
The also emphasized their commitment to realize stability and security in the region and support joint efforts to counter extremism, violence and terrorist groups that threaten security and safety of countries and peoples.
“The UAE is looking forward to overcome this stage of chaos and instability in the region through joint co-operation and efforts that serve mutual interests, achieve peace and stability and restore security,” Sheikh Mohammed said.


Green light for crown prince-led Saudi privatization program

Updated 53 min 48 sec ago
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Green light for crown prince-led Saudi privatization program

  • The Privatization Program is one of 12 key elements of the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
  • The program is aimed at increasing job opportunities for Saudi nationals

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs on Tuesday approved the Privatization Program that is one of 12 key elements of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

The program is aimed at increasing job opportunities for Saudi nationals, attracting the latest technologies and innovations, and supporting economic development.

It encourages both local and foreign investment in order to enhance the role of the private sector, with government entities adopting a regulatory and supervisory role. The aim is to increase the private sector’s contribution to GDP from 40 percent to 65 percent by 2030. 

The program will aim to reach its objectives through encouraging the private sector to invest in establishing new schools, universities and health centers, while the government pursues its organizational and supervisory role in health and education.

The privatization program aims to benefit from previous success stories, with the private sector’s collaboration in the development of infrastructure, and its involvement on a large scale in sectors such as energy, water, transport, telecommunications, petrochemicals and finance.

The program sets out a series of objectives in three areas: Developing a general legal framework for policies related to privatization; establishing organizational foundations and dedicated institutions to execute the policies; and setting a timescale for their delivery. 

The Council of Economic and Development Affairs is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.