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Trump to announce $110bn Saudi arms deal during visit

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
US military armoured vehicles [File photo]

America’s New York Times newspaper revealed that President Donald Trump is expected to announce an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, starting tomorrow and lasting until Sunday.

The newspaper said that Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, made the deal.

It noted that at the beginning of the month, Kushner welcomed a high-level Saudi delegation in a gold-plated reception room in the White House where he discussed the arms deal with them.

According to the newspaper, the two sides discussed “a shopping list that included planes, ships and precision-guided bombs. Then an American official raised the idea of the Saudis’ buying an advanced radar system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.”

Read: US, Saudi Arabia close to clinching $100 bn arms deal

During the discussion of the deal, many administration officials raised concerns that the cost might be a problem, but “Kushner picked up the phone and called Marillyn A. Hewson – the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, which makes the radar system – and asked her whether she could cut the price. As his guests watched slack-jawed, Ms Hewson told him she would look into it.”

The newspaper also reported that Kushner’s personal intervention in the arms sale is

further evidence of the Trump White House’s readiness to dispense with custom in favour of informal, hands-on deal making. It also offers a window into how the administration hopes to change America’s position in the Middle East, emphasising hard power and haggling over traditional diplomacy.

This deal is also “a symbol of America’s renewed commitment to security in the Persian [Arabian] Gulf,” the paper explained.

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