THE Kingdom is optimistic about overcoming the many challenges facing the Middle East and looks forward to working with the administration of US President Donald Trump, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Trump dropped Washington’s commitment to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, a key pillar of US Middle East policy through successive administrations.
After meeting his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, Jubeir declined to comment directly on that decision, which added to European concerns about how Trump’s “America First” message might reshape US foreign policy.
A senior French diplomat said Trump’s remarks, made alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “made no sense.”
“We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all issues in the region,” Jubeir said.
“We are very, very optimistic about our ability to overcome the many challenges we face in the region.”
Tillerson and Jubeir are in Bonn to attend a meeting of the G20 top industrialized countries.
Jubeir did not elaborate but Saudi Arabia has deep concerns about Iran’s increasing assertiveness in the region and he and Tillerson were to attend larger meetings on the crises in Yemen and Syria on the sidelines of a gathering of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 world powers in nearby Bonn.
In a meeting on Yemen with Jubeir and the foreign ministers of Britain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, Tillerson did not respond to a reporter’s question about the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban for citizens of seven mainly Muslim nations. Indeed, he made no substantive remarks in the presence of reporters, limiting his comments with to polite chatter about his past business travel experience as CEO of Exxon Mobil.
In his talks with Netanyahu, Trump also promised to work toward a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians and said it would require compromise on both sides.
Last week the US Ambassador to the United Nations said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ choice of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as the UN envoy to Libya showed the organization was biased against Israel.
“We thought that what happened with regard to Fayyad was already deplorable,” the French diplomat said “…But all this makes it difficult for us to understand the decision processes at the heart of the American administration.”