Saudi crown prince refuses to speak about his wealth
Saudi crown prince refuses to speak about his wealth
Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman
20 March, 2018, 04:11
On Sunday, ahead of his trip to the US, CBS News programme 60 Minutes aired an interview with the prince; his first with an American television network.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived Monday in Washington DC on a two-week, coast-to-coast visit which will include a stop in Silicon Valley as well as the series of meetings with Trump administration officials at the start of his stay. However according to U.S. officials, there is one Saudi woman who has not benefited from the prince's empowerment measures, she is his own mother.
Although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made multiple visits to Saudi Arabia a year ago, and Trump has spoken regularly by phone with Salman and his son, Mohammed is said to have particularly close relations with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a White House adviser.
Saudi Arabia condemned the attacks but was accused of secretly financing extremist militants.
He also defended at length his anti-corruption purge which saw numerous kingdom's princes and tycoons detained for several weeks inside Riyadh's luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel - widely seen as an attempt to cement his grip on power. Signing an accord which, like the Iran deal (JCPOA), does not require Riyadh to waive its uranium enrichment rights, would help the U.S. check Russian inroads into the Kingdom's energy market and boost its flagging nuclear power industry while allowing Saudi to exploit its considerable uranium deposits and conserve oil for export. In 1973, OPEC imposed an embargo on the USA, causing an economic crisis that lasted several years, and later induced President Ford to ban oil exports. "We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal".
On whether Saudi Arabia feels that it needs nuclear weapons to counter Iran, Bin Salman said "Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible".
But he insisted his vast private wealth and opulent lifestyle was his personal matter - and he was no Mahatma Ghandi. "I'm not Gandhi or Mandela", bin Salman said.
"As far as my private expenses are concerned, I'm a rich person and not a poor person. I spend at least 51 percent on people and 49 on myself".
The ambitious young prince visited Britain earlier this month on his first foreign tour since his rise as part of efforts to persuade Western allies that "shock" reforms have made his country, the world's top oil producer, a better place to invest and a more tolerant society.
Bin Salman also said that after detaining high-ranking officials and influential princes in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the kingdom has gathered over $100 billion as part of reconciliation deals.
The U.S. government has provided intelligence, munitions and midair refueling to Saudi warplanes since operations kicked off in 2015.
But the attackers were sophisticated and had plenty of time and resources, an indication that they were most likely supported by a government, according to more than a dozen people, including cybersecurity experts who have looked into the attack and asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of the continuing investigation. Following this deal with a Subsequent Arrangement that enables Riyadh to begin enriching uranium just as key JCPOA "sunset provisions" expire, would also give Iran added incentive to restrict its nuclear program to peaceful civilian applications.
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