Key issues for US-Saudi talks

Updated 20 March 2018
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Key issues for US-Saudi talks

Iran
• A hawkish White House and the Saudi administration are likely to see eye-to-eye on bringing more pressure to bear on Tehran. The 2015 Iran nuclear deal needs to be signed off by Donald Trump in mid-April if it is to remain active. In January, the last time a US renewal was due, Trump kept the deal alive. The recent dismissal of Rex Tillerson from his position as Secretary of State means he may be closer to terminating it.

Qatar boycott
• Washington, which has a major military base in Qatar, wants to see the feud brought to a resolution. The US wants to see a united GCC front against Iran and, while critical of many Qatari actions, does not agree with the Saudi and Emirati view that Doha is taking an intolerably belligerent stance in the region.

Israel-Palestinian peace
• President Trump has called it “the ultimate deal” and would like to claim a big foreign policy success. He may feel compelled to make an announcement, but Saudi Arabia will certainly advise him against doing so. Riyadh has stressed there can be no deal without Palestinian approval, and Trump has been assiduously ignoring the Palestinians, and refusing to put pressure on the Israelis. The US decision to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem angered Arab countries and Saudi Arabia may look for assurances that the next move will be more subtle.
Saudi nuclear ambitions
• The US wants Saudi Arabia to buy American technology for its proposed nuclear energy program, but also wants Saudi to hit stringent guidelines designed to prevent nuclear weapons development, including prohibitions on uranium mining enrichment. Saudi Arabia, with potentially lucrative uranium deposits, wants to keep its options open and may look to other nuclear nations, including Russia for reactor purchases. Riyadh has also said it will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does.

Trade
• The US wants an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco to happen on the New York Stock Exchange, and is always keen to sell weapons to Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is keen to assure would-be foreign investors that property rights have not been undermined by the anti-corruption drive. Riyadh also is also looking for ways to encourage economic entrepreneurship at home, for investment opportunities in the high-tech sector.

Relationship building
• The US and Saudi Arabia have long been close allies, with close institutional ties in areas such as defense and intelligence-sharing. But a relatively new US administration and a new Saudi administration need to sound each other out in terms of the satellite personnel around the two leaders, who will be critical players in implementing policies.


Arab and Muslim nations, organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s decrees on Khashoggi case

Updated 34 min 30 sec ago
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Arab and Muslim nations, organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s decrees on Khashoggi case

  • UAE, Egypt and Bahrain issued statements commending Saudi Arabia's royal decrees
  • Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, said the king’s decisions “achieve justice and equality”

JEDDAH: Gulf Arab allies have backed the royal decrees issued Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday involving the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

UAE

The UAE on Saturday backed Saudi Arabia’s statements, the official news agency WAM said.

The Gulf Arab state “commends directives and decisions of Saudi King Salman on the issue of Kashoggi,” WAM said on Twitter.

The announcement also said that Saudi Arabia and its leadership is a state of institutions based on justice and equity.

Egypt

Egypt praised what it called the "decisive" and "brave" actions taken by the king.
"Egypt sees that the brave and decisive decisions and actions taken by the Saudi King over this matter align with his majesty's approach that respects the principles of law and applications of effective justice," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It also offered its condolences to Khashoggi's family and said it was confident the investigation would reveal the truth. 

Bahrain

Bahrain praised decisions made by the Saudi king to establish justice, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV reported.

“Saudi Arabia will remain a state of justice, values and principles,” an official statement quote by the channel said.

Palestine

Palestine commended King Salman's decisions to affirm justice and fairness.

Yemen

Yemen on Saturday praised decisions made by King Salman in relation to Khashoggi's death , according to the legitimate government’s state news agency.

Djibouti

Djibouti praised King Salman's decisions and said they are proof that Saudi Arabia is a nation of values, principles, and justice.

Arab and Muslim Organizations

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Saturday praised the Kingdom's transparency and its emphasis on the implementation of justice.

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, on Saturday said the king’s decisions on the death of Khashoggi “achieve justice and equality in accordance with Islamic law”, according to a statement on state news agency SPA.