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U.S., Saudis Sign Hundreds Of Billions In Deals During Trump Visit


Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (right) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh on May 20.

U.S. and Saudi officials say they have signed at least $350 billion in business deals during a visit to Saudi Arabia by President Donald Trump that both countries called "historic."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a press conference in Riyadh on May 20 that the deals -- including a $110 billion defense and military deal -- totaled more than $350 billion, while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the deals were worth more than $380 billion.

Jubeir called Trump's visit the start of a "turning point" between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world.

He said the two countries had signed a "strategic vision declaration" that would lead to cooperation in battling violent extremism and terrorism while building a "defense architecture for the region."

Tillerson and Jubeir said many of the deals will be carried out over a 10-year period and result in "hundreds of thousands of jobs" being created.

They said it had been a "historic" day in U.S.-Saudi relations.

Bilateral relations had been strained by former President Barack Obama's rapprochement with Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

Trump told journalists the first day of his visit was a "tremendous day" and that there will be "hundreds of billions of dollars of investments" in the United States and "jobs, jobs, jobs."

Jubeir said Trump and King Salman held talks that focused on "terrorism, extremism, eradicating terror financing," stopping the "nefarious activities of Iran," as well as the fighting in Yemen and prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump also held talks with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif.

Salman said earlier in the day that the Trump visit to the kingdom will "strengthen our strategic cooperation" and help enhance global security and stability.

Tillerson said the deals signed with Saudi Arabia on May 20 would help it to deal with the "malign Iranian influence."

Tillerson said the two countries were dedicating themselves to "a new strategic partnership...[and] charting a renewed path for a peaceful Middle East."

The defense deals signed are to help the Saudis upgrade their air force and to improve air and missile defense as well as cybersecurity.

The trip to Saudi Arabia is Trump's first foreign trip since taking office in January.

Before their talks, Salman awarded Trump Saudi Arabia's highest civilian honor, the King Abdulaziz medal, for "his quest to enhance security and stability in the region and around the world."

Trump has been a fierce critic of the landmark nuclear deal made during the Obama administration between Iran and six world powers in 2015.

The accord resulted in significant limits on Tehran's most sensitive nuclear activities -- which many in the West believed were part of an effort to build atomic weapons -- in exchange for sanctions relief.

On May 21, the U.S. president will deliver a speech to dozens of leaders of Muslim states at a regional summit in Riyadh in which he is expected to call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance.

Trump is accompanied on his visit by First Lady Melania Trump -- who arrived not wearing the traditional head scarf common in Muslim countries -- and several senior White House aides.

His eight-day tour will also include stops in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Italy.

The Trump administration has been hoping that the visits would help him reinforce close U.S. ties with key allies, particularly in the Middle East.

But the trip has been overshadowed by the deepening crisis surrounding the investigation into Trump's associates and their ties to Russian officials.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and the BBC
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