Trump scandals no issue for Saudi: minister

AFP , Sunday 21 May 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (2-R) walk together as Trump arrives to attend a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

The scandals besetting US President Donald Trump at home have no bearing on an increasingly close relationship with Saudi Arabia, a senior Saudi cabinet minister said on Sunday.

"Absolutely not. Our relationship is with the United States of America and it has great leadership today," Khaled al-Falih, minister of energy, industry and mineral resources, told AFP on the sidelines of summits between Trump and Muslim leaders from around the world.

"We are very encouraged by the position the Trump administration has taken."

The past week has seen a string of major developments in Trump's domestic woes, including the announcement that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, has agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections last year.

Some aggressive Democrats have begun to discuss methods for Trump's ouster.

Reports also emerged that Trump called Comey "a nut job" and that the FBI has identified a senior White House official as a "significant person of interest" in its probe of Russian meddling.

But Saudi Arabia has embraced Trump, after disappointment with his predecessor Barack Obama's perceived distance from the Middle East's problems, and a tilt toward Riyadh's rival Iran.

Trump and King Salman on Saturday signed a "strategic vision" agreement to intensify ties in defence, economics and other areas.

"Today was a truly historic day in the relationship between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday at a press conference with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson.

"And we believe it's the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world."

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