Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince is singing US President Donald Trump’s praises after their meeting, calling him a “true friend of Muslims” and claiming the leader’s immigration ban does not target Islam.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, in what his senior adviser deemed a “historic turning point” in US-Saudi relations.
The adviser said in a statement that although Washington and Riyadh had previously “undergone a difference of opinion,” the Tuesday meeting “put things on the right track, and marked a significant shift in relations.”
The two sides discussed Trump’s controversial ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, which does not include Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia does not believe that this measure is targeting Muslim countries or the religion of Islam,” the statement reads, noting that Riyadh believes the ban is merely aimed at preventing terrorists from entering the US.
Trump has been repeatedly criticized for failing to put Saudi Arabia on the list, despite some of the 9/11 terrorists hailing from the country. Many claim it was omitted because Trump has business dealings in the Gulf kingdom which he didn’t want to jeopardize.
The release goes on to state that “President Trump expressed his deep respect for the religion of Islam, considering it one of the divine religions that came with great human principles kidnapped by radical groups.”
It calls Trump a “true friend of Muslims who will serve the Muslim World in an unimaginable manner,” noting that the reality of the US president is different to how the media and others have portrayed him.
Salman and Trump also discussed the 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers – including the US – and Iran. The prince appeared to agree with Trump, who has previously called the agreement “disastrous” and the “worst deal ever negotiated.”
The prince called the deal “bad” and “very dangerous,” stating that it will merely hold Iran back for a “short period of time” when it comes to producing a nuclear weapon.
The adviser’s statement accused Iran of “trying to gain its legitimacy in the Islamic world by supporting terrorist organizations.”
Meanwhile, as Trump continues to push his plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, the two sides discussed Saudi Arabia’s successful building of a fence along its border with Iraq, which, according to the statement, “led to preventing illegal entrance of individuals, as well as preventing smuggling operations.”
The talks are being seen as a positive change from Riyadh’s often tumultuous relationship with the Obama administration, especially in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.