Saudi Arabia boosts US Treasury holdings ahead of Trump visit

Saudi Arabia has been investing billions of dollars in order to boost its holdings of US Treasury bonds ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the kingdom.

Saudi holdings of US Treasury bonds were at $89.4 billion during September of last year but it climbed up to $114.4 billion in March this year, according to the US Treasury Department.  

During Trump’s visit, the officials of two countries are also scheduled to hold economic talks at which Riyadh aims to gain investment and technology from the US.

The Saudi plan of increasing its holdings of US Treasury bonds is striking since Riyadh was forced to liquidate many of its other overseas assets over the past year to cover a budget deficit at home as a result of low oil prices.

“Investment policy is based on financial returns, not political expediency – the Saudis require diversified and liquid assets. But they clearly see value in the US economy and investments in the US,” John Sfakianakis, director of the Riyadh-based (Persian) Gulf Research Center said.

Trump has decided to visit Saudi Arabia before heading to Israel on his first international trip, a move that highlights Trump administration foreign policy priorities.  The Saudi kingdom is keen to reset relations with Washington, which became strained under the Barack Obama administration.

The trip, Trump said last week, “will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”   

Trump has drawn fire from Islamic nations around the world for adopting a harsh rhetoric that indiscriminately links Muslims to terror groups like Daesh.

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Since 2011, the Saudi regime has also been sponsoring Takfiri terrorists fighting against the Syrian government, which has left hundreds of thousands people dead and millions more displaced. The military aggression of Saudis on Yemen has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians. 

Rights groups have also expressed dismay over Saudi Arabia’s dismal rights record, its treatment of the kingdom’s minority Shia population and its military support for Bahrain’s crackdown on dissent.

Last week, the White House confirmed that the Trump administration is putting the finishing touches on a $300 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

According to reports, the deals exceed $100 billion at this stage and might be increased to $300 billion over a 10-year period with the aim to help strengthen Saudi Arabia’s armed forces while making sure that Israel, America’s main Middle East ally, maintains its qualitative military edge in the region. 

According to a report by The New York Times on Thursday, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner personally intervened on a recent arms deal with Saudi Arabia ahead of Trump’s visit to the kingdom. The report said Kushner jumped to the Saudis’ assistance when it became clear that the cost of a sophisticated radar system, THAAD, might be an issue.

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