Saudi Arabia on Monday (Jun 22) said it would open a new air base to host US President Donald Trump’s visit, despite the White House threatening to block the move.
The kingdom’s national news agency, SPA, said in a statement that the president would meet on Monday with Saudi officials to discuss the “reopening of al- Udeid air base, the establishment of new military facilities, and other strategic interests.”
The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said that the meeting would be held at the al-Jadeed airbase, which is also home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The US Navy and US air forces are based at the base.
The Saudi statement did not mention the Whitehouse.
The Saudi statement came just days after Trump ordered the US military to leave Saudi Arabia after the kingdom executed a top Saudi cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who was also a top official in the country’s ruling family.
The kingdom has been on a military campaign to flush out dissent and support the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a staunch critic of Riyadh.
Trump on Monday signed a bill to give the White Senate the power to block any executive order from Trump.
The White House said in its statement that it was “unaware of any specific plans” by Trump to close the Saudi base and said that it would be “appropriate” for the administration to provide a “thorough assessment” of the impact the closure will have on the military.
The United States has already pulled billions of dollars of defense and diplomatic aid to Saudi Arabia, saying it is vital to deter Iran from carrying out attacks in the Middle East.
The Trump administration has also criticized Saudi Arabia for not taking further action against its citizens who have travelled to the country to support anti-government protests.