President Trump greeted the crown prince of Abu Dhabi at the White House Monday, starting a week that will mark a dramatic overture to the Muslim world.
Trump meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, and he departs Friday for Saudi Arabia as the first foreign destination of his four-month-old presidency. By going first to the Saudi capital to meet with leaders of predominately Muslim Persian Gulf countries, the White House hopes will emphasize their unified resolve against common adversaries, including the Islamic State and Iran.
Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan is a “very special person, highly respected,” Trump said during a brief photo opportunity in the Oval Office. “And loves his country, I can tell you that, loves his country. And I think loves the United States, which to us is very important.”
But as often happens in meetings with Arab leaders, most of the discussions happened behind closed doors. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the two leaders were expected to discuss defense cooperation and counter-terrorism as well as trade and investment problems.
Abu Dhabi is one of seven Persian Gulf monarchies that make up the United Arab Emirates. In addition to being heir to the throne of Abu Dhabi, Muhammad serves as the commander-in-chief of the UAE military, which has been a frequent US ally in the region and which recently signed a defense cooperation agreement with the United States.