12:36 GMT +325 June 2019
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    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the second annual US-Saudi Arabia CEO Summit in Washington on Wednesday, a day after Secretary of Defence James Mattis visited the Gulf country.

    The summit brought together Saudi and US government officials and business leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities to expand US-Saudi economic partnership.

    Tillerson delivered a speech at the opening of the summit, describing relations between the two countries as strong and solid.

    "It seems like Trump is trying to correct to a certain extent and to repair the relations that [under] Obama in the last moment had deteriorated, just like it happened with Israel," Alberto Garcia Watson, former senior correspondent for HispanTV, told Radio Sputnik's Brian Becker, referring to the suspension of US weapon sales to the Saudi government in the last year of Barack Obama's presidency and current US Donald Trump's pledge to reverse that decision.

    According to Garcia Watson, the historic relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US soured during the Obama years because of the nuclear deal reached with Iran. Sanctions placed on Iran over its nuclear program had for many years banned the country from exploiting its natural resources and trading its oil on international markets; as sanctions are lifted, Iran becomes more of a market competitor with Saudi Arabia.

    ​During his speech, Tillerson said the relationship between the US and the Saudi monarchy should be "taken to new heights."

    But how much deeper can the US relationship with Saudi Arabia go, Garcia Watson questioned.

    "If it wasn't for the United States, the Saud family… would not exist today. United States has prevented this country from being banned, from being punished, from getting any resolutions that would condemn them. We are talking about one of the most repressive regimes on Earth where people get slaughtered and get beheaded in the middle of the streets… where women have no rights, where women cannot even drive a car," he pointed out.

    Garcia Watson recalled the meeting between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz in 1945 that resulted in an agreement that centered around US support and military training for Saudi Arabia in return for oil and political support in the region.

    "We are talking about support that can prevent any punishment to this nation," Garcia Watson said.

    "It's weird and ironic and cynical, the fact that we have another country — that is, Iran — [which] United States continuously condemns for the lack of freedom, for the lack of free elections, when actually the Saudi regime doesn't even have elections… It's a real precious jewel for the United States, the existence of this nation and the existence of a family like the Saud family ruling this nation like in Medieval times."    


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