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Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel painful: Mohammad bin Salman

Saturday March 24, 2018 11:19 PM, Agencies

Mohammad bin Salman

Washington: In a 75-minute meeting with the editors of The Washington Post on Thursday, the last day of his four-day stay in Washington, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, fielded questions on a range of topics, from the war in Yemen to the Middle East peace process, Iran, his domestic reform agenda, and Saudi Arabia’s nuclear plans.

Mohammad bin Salman also spoke at length about the prospects for economic growth in the Middle East, saying it could be “the next Europe” if a series of problems can be resolved. As for the US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he said it was a painful move.

Mohammed bin Salman said that his relationship with President Trump's son in law, Jared Kushner, comes within the frame of communication between the governments of the two countries.

"We do not use Kushner to promote the Kingdom in America," he said. "My relationship with Kushner is in the normal context of communication between governments, and I also have good relations with Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House."

Mohammed bin Salman said that Islam was a moderate religion and there are those who attempt to hijack it. “I believe Islam is sensible, Islam is simple, and people are trying to hijack it,” he said. Lengthy discussions with clerics have been positive and are “why we have more allies in the religious establishment, day by day.”

He also discussed his reform efforts at home, including granting women many rights such as driving and more, stressing that he worked hard to convince the conservatives that such restrictions are not part of the Islamic faith. He also stressed that the Kingdom will announce to the world what it is doing to combat extremism. He talked about the penetration of extremism in schools and education in the past, stressing is striving to keep extremist ideologies away from the education system.

Muhammed bin Salman is currently touring the United States and has already met with President Donald Trump, as well as senior Congress and defense officials. The Crown Prince said his visit to the United States aims to attract investors to Saudi Arabia. He explained that his main task in America is to win the confidence of US investors in his country, as well as bring technological and educational support to back the reform efforts in the Kingdom.

"Saudi Arabia has five percent of the world's uranium reserves, and not using our uranium is like quitting using oil," he said.

Mohammed bin Salman pointed out that the campaign of recent arrests, which came within the efforts to combat corruption, is an internal issue that has been in scope over the years. With regard to Yemen, he stressed that the Kingdom had spared no effort to improve the humanitarian situation.

On Thursday, speaking at the KSA-USA Partnership event, the Saudi Crown Prince stated that the Kingdom is in a phase of change, while stressing that this is the phase to grab opportunities for which “we aspire to work together with our partners.”

Muhammed bin Salman also hailed the strong and solid relations between the Kingdom and US that has bound the two great nations over several decades. In his first address in the United States after becoming the Crown Prince, he stressed, “the breadth and history of relations, our common values and goals,” outlining his vision towards a shared future.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington organized this first annual dinner party to celebrate the Saudi American Partnership at Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington DC. The speakers at the event titled “Together we prevail” recollected remarkable events and shining examples of over 80 successful years of strong partnership between the two countries

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