Trump, Saudi king further strengthen cooperation in bringing peace to the region

The White House statement said that in a phone conversation, the pair also spoke of the need to address Iran’s “destabilizing regional activities, the fight the spread of “radical Islamic terrorism”, and to establish safe zones in war-ravaged Syria and Yemen,

No further details were provided about those plans, but official Saudi Press Agency early on Monday confirmed that Trump had called Salman.

Although no mention was made of Iran, the views of the two leaders “were identical” on issues discussed during the call, including “confronting those who seek to undermine security and stability in the region and interfere in the internal affairs of other states.”  Riyadh regularly accuses Tehran of regional interference.

According to SPA, Trump and Salman also agreed on “formulating the appropriate mechanisms” for countering “terrorism” and extremism.

Trump opposed the nuclear agreement signed by Israel’s foe Iran, and other world powers, including the United States, in 2015 and has repeatedly said he wants to undo it.

Some of his key nominees including secretary of state candidate Rex Tillerson, have adopted an openly anti-Iran stance, with TIllerson seeking a complete revision of the accord.

Last month, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President, said that there were many ways of “undoing” the Iran nuclear deal that he would discuss with Trump.

Former President Barack Obama warned before he left office, against rowing back the pact, emphasizing its “significant and concrete results.”  The Nuclear Deal limits Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Both Washington and Riyadh are major foe of Tehran. The Sunni majority Saudi kingdom is engaged in a power struggle with the Shiite country for dominance in the region.

The Saudi Press Agency said that Salman and Trump invited each other to visit their respective capitals, “The two leaders agreed to schedule the visits in the coming period.”

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil, but ties between Riyadh and Washington became increasingly frayed during the eight-year administration of former president Barack Obama.  Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and other regional conflicts.

Adel al-Jubeir, Riyadh’s Foreign Minister, said he expects the Trump administration to be more engaged in the Middle East, and the world in general, while “rebuilding” relationships with allies.

The White House said that Trump and King Salman “agreed on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”

Trump also spoke by telephone with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and committed to “further strengthen cooperation on fighting radical Islamic terrorism,” the White House said, adding that the pair also discussed establishing safe zones for refugees displaced by conflict in the region, and the crown prince “agreed to support this initiative.”