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Saudi Prince Meets with Obama, Top Officials

  • VOA News

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman (L) arrives at the Oval Office of the White House for a meeting with US President Barack Obama, Washington, June 17, 2016.

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman (L) arrives at the Oval Office of the White House for a meeting with US President Barack Obama, Washington, June 17, 2016.

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office as part if a Washington visit packed with high-level meetings.

The 30-year-old crown prince, son of King Salman, serves as deputy prime minister and defense minister of his country. He has been a major force in plans to revamp Saudi Arabia's economy, reducing its dependence on oil revenues by 2030.

Despite his youth, the prince is considered a power player in the Saudi government, and accordingly he has met with many of the Obama administration's most important officials. It is significant, too, that President Obama met with the crown prince in the Oval Office, a location usually reserved for meetings with heads of state.

He has also met with members of Congress and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Speaking to reporters at the Saudi embassy in Washington, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters that Prince Mohammed met Thursday with his counterpart, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. He said the two discussed bilateral relations, as well as the situations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Iran.

Jubeir said the crown prince reiterated Saudi Arabia's support for more "robust intervention" in Syria, including arming the opposition. The spokesman said until the balance of power in Syria is changed "in a dramatic way," there is no incentive for a political transition.

Questioned about the possible release of U.S. classified documents reportedly showing Saudi Arabian ties to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Jubeir said the Saudi kingdom had requested the release of those documents in 2002 when they were first deemed "classified" by the United States. He said his country cannot respond to so-called "blank pages" and added, "This is an American matter."

The prince also met earlier in the week with the president's National Economic Council, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, to discuss Prince Mohammed's plans for economic reform.

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