«German Chancellor Merkel has arrived in the Saudi port city of Jeddah to hold talks with the kingdom’s authorities. Women’s rights are high on her agenda following massive criticism of Riyadh’s UN women’s body role.»
«dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.»
«President Trump made the decision to begin his first foreign trip in Saudi Arabia, delivering a message of peace and unity with Muslim leaders he seeks to enlist for the fight radical Islamic terrorism»
«No president has ever visited the homelands and the holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip»
«The agenda, including meeting with leaders from Muslim countries set up by the Saudi king, challenged Mr. Trump’s critics who have accused him of being anti-Muslim»
«What President Trump is seeking is to unite people of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americas who profess these faiths»
* * *
Il Presidente Trump semplicemente accetta il fatto che l’Arabia Saudita abbia, e ne sia orgogliosa, un propria fede e che ne onori dei principi e valori differenti da quelli occidentali. In altri termini, non fomenta elementi di contrasto, bensì esalta quelli di condivisione ed unione.
Basterebbe soltanto guardare gli ottimi risultati della politica estera cinese:
«Ahead of the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns»
«A senior, unnamed White House official said the US was close to completing a series of deals to sell Saudi Arabia arms and related maintenance worth $100 billion (91.4 billion euros)»
«We are in the final stages of a series of deals,” the White House official said on Friday. The arms package could be worth more than $300 billion over a decade, the official said. The US has been the Saudi kingdom’s major arms supplier, delivering F-15 fighter jets, command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years»
Ahead of the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns.
A senior, unnamed White House official said the US was close to completing a series of deals to sell Saudi Arabia arms and related maintenance worth $100 billion (91.4 billion euros), according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump begins an international tour next Friday with the first stop in Saudi Arabia, followed by visits in Israel, the Vatican, Brussels for a NATO summit and Sicily for a Group of Seven summit.
“We are in the final stages of a series of deals,” the White House official said on Friday. The arms package could be worth more than $300 billion over a decade, the official said. The US has been the Saudi kingdom’s major arms supplier, delivering F-15 fighter jets, command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years.
President Barack Obama had canceled a series of planned weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the last months of his administration because of the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen which had led to numerous civilian casualties.
Trump has already met with Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who yields much influence in the kingdom due to the frailty of the 81-year-old King Salman. The 31-year-old prince is also defense minister and has led an aggressive campaign both militarily in Yemen and politically against Iran and Shia Muslims.
The UN estimates that 17 million of Yemen’s 27 million people are “food insecure” including 3.3 million pregnant and breast-feeding mothers and children, some 462,000 under the age of five, who are “acutely malnourished.”
Restoring US-Saudi ties
Trump and Salman met at the White House in Washington in March. The Bloomberg news agency reported on Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund could invest up to $40 billion in US infrastructure.
US national security adviser H.R. McMaster previewed Trump’s first foreign tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium in a White House briefing on Friday. “President Trump understands that America First does not mean America alone,” McMaster told reporters. “To the contrary, prioritizing America’s interests means strengthening alliances.”
McMaster said Trump “will encourage our Arab and Muslim partners to take bold, new steps to promote peace and to confront those, from ISIS to al Qaeda to Iran to the Assad regime, who perpetuate chaos and violence that has inflicted so much suffering throughout the Muslim world and beyond.”
A Saudi official has told “Der Spiegel’ magazine that good relations with Berlin come before arms deals. This comes as Chancellor Merkel, on a visit to the kingdom, called for an end to Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia intends to refrain in future from asking for more weapons from Germany, and to concentrate instead on economic cooperation in other sectors, according to an interview in the German news magazine “Der Spiegel” published on Sunday.
“We accept the German reticence with regard to exports to Saudi Arabia; we know the political background,” Saudi Deputy Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri told the magazine.
“We will not cause any more problems for the German government with new requests for weapons,” he added.
Al-Tuwaijri said the reason for the change was a desire for closer cooperation with Berlin in areas other than arms, with Riyadh aiming to make Germany one of its “very most important economic partners.”
“Relations with Germany are much more important to us than arguing about weapons deals,” he said.
Controversial – but lucrative – issue
German weapons deals with Saudi Arabia have been controversial for many years, with the kingdom frequently the target of criticism for its poor human rights record.
Among other issues, the country’s involvement in the long-running war in Yemen, in which many civilians have died in airstrikes carried out by warplanes from a Saudi-led Arab coalition, has raised fears that German arms were being misused.
According to preliminary figures, in 2016 Germany exported armaments to Saudi Arabia to the tune of more than half a billion euros.
The interview was published as Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in the kingdom on Sunday for talks with Saudi King Salman and other officials. There were no representatives of armaments companies in the business delegation accompanying her, though the German government has previously said that weapons could still be delivered to Saudi Arabia on a case-by-case basis.
At the talks in the commercial hub of Jeddah, Merkel called for an end to the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen.
“We believe in the UN-led process of diplomatic resolution,” she said. “We do not think that there can be a military solution to this conflict.”
She said something had to be done to prevent even more people in the already impoverished country from being brought into an “extremely bad humanitarian situation,” while conceding that Saudi Arabia was not the only party that had to accept compromises.
The Saudi government has been intervening in the war in Yemen for more than two years, leading a Sunni Arab coalition that has been bombing positions of Shiite Houthi rebels, which Riyadh sees as proxy forces for its regional rival, Iran. In view of the large number of civilian casualties in the strikes, even the United States, a close ally of the kingdom, has called for the attacks to cease.
Military and police training
Despite German reservations about Saudi military actions, an agreement was signed during Merkel’s visit that provides for German Bundeswehr soldiers to help train their Saudi counterparts, a government spokesman in Berlin said.
Under the deal, Saudi soldiers are to receive training at Bundeswehr facilities, the spokesman said, giving no further details.
A declaration of intent was also signed on police training cooperation, according to information from the government. The scheme would see German federal police giving instruction to Saudi border police, among other things.