Over the weekend, President Donald Trump signed a $350 billion arms agreement with Saudi Arabia during his first trip abroad as commander in chief.
The agreement is worth $350 billion over 10 years, $110 billion of which will take effect immediately, according to reports.
This arms package includes defense equipment and services that support Saudi Arabia’s military. The U.S. has had a relationship with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest energy producer, for decades. This agreement is seen as a move to solidify and strengthen that relationship.
The arms package supports the “long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the Kingdom’s ability to contribute to counter terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations,” the White House said in a statement, according to CNBC.
While Saudi Arabia is a hub of Islam’s most revered sites, it is also a target of radical Islamic extremism, and the U.S. realizes Saudi Arabia is vital in keeping in check the global ambitions of Iran, CNBC reported.
Saudi Arabia is primed for economic reform and has signed several deals worth tens of billions of dollars with private U.S. companies.
“Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors whose technology was part of the U.S-Saudi accord, said in a statement that the deal ‘will directly contribute to [Saudi Arabia’s] Vision 2030 by opening the door for thousands of highly skilled jobs in new economic sectors,’ ” according to CNBC.
Saudi Arabia is the main destination for U.S. arms sales, as the Kingdom purchased nearly 10 percent of U.S. exports from 2011 to 2015, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
In the Joint Strategic Vision Declaration for the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the White House announced that “both countries welcome a new period in their strategic partnership, built upon their continued trust and shared interests. Furthermore, the two nations plan to form a Strategic Joint Consultative Group, hosted by The President … and The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, The King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia … to chart the course of this strategic partnership. The Group will meet at least once a year, alternating between our two countries, and it will review areas of cooperation.”
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud tweeted about the President’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, welcoming him and saying the visit “will strengthen our strategic cooperation, lead to global security and stability.”