Saudi King Thanks Trump for His 'Courageous Action' in Syria

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Trump and Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2017.
Trump and Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2017.Credit: Mark Wilson/Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke over the phone on Friday with King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who became the first leader in the Middle East to hear directly from Trump after the American attack in Syria on Thursday.

A statement released by the White House said that during the conversation, which focused on Syria, the king expressed his country's "strong support" for Trump's decision to strike the airbase that Washington says was used by the Assad regime last week to launch a chemical attack. The king, the statement said, "thanked the president for his courageous action, which both agreed was a necessary response to the horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians."

The statement added that "both leaders underscored their personal commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between their two countries and committed to remain in close contact on a range of regional and bilateral issues."

Salman and Trump spoke on the phone at least once prior to this conversation, in late January. Back then, they also discussed the situation in Yemen and Iran's activities across the Middle East. A few weeks later, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman visited the White House and spoke at length with the president on a range of issues, including Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Saudi Arabia, together with Israel and Jordan, was quick to announce its support for Trump's decision to act in Syria, doing so as early as Thursday night.

The kingdom urged the Obama administration for years to adopt a more active and tough policy toward Assad and Iran, and was disappointed when the previous president chose not to act in Syria, except when targeting ISIS. Trump's harsh rhetoric towards Iran ever since he entered the White House was received very favorably by the Saudi leadership, and the readout of the phone call put out by the White House suggests that the attack in Syria only strengthened the Saudis' optimism.

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