U.S., Saudis in Talks for New Defense Deals Worth Billions Ahead of Trump’s Visit, Sources Tell Reuters

Washington and Riyadh are working to boost military sales from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia for new and existing contracts worth “tens of billions of dollars” ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to the kingdom this month, Reuters reports, citing several sources familiar with the talks.

According to Reuters, “as planning for Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia intensified in recent weeks, the arms negotiations also accelerated. Two U.S. officials said a U.S.-Saudi working group met at the White House Monday and Tuesday to negotiate the trip, as well as financing for military equipment sales and stopping terrorist financing,” the news service said, citing two people with knowledge of the talks.

The report said that Lockheed Martin Co. programs in the package include a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system with several batteries, the sources said, the same being made operational in South Korea to protect against threats from North Korea. The system costs about $1 billion. Also being negotiated is a C2BMC software system for battle command and control and communications as well as a package of satellite capabilities, both provided by Lockheed, Reuters reports.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Saudi officials met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday, including Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin on the foreign relations committee. Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed ambassador to the United States, Prince Khaled bin Salman, is a former fighter pilot with military experience and is the son of King Salman.

[Click here to read the full report from Reuters.com]