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    Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

    Amid Tensions Over Iran Deal, 9/11-Links, Powerful Saudi Prince Visits DC

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    Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, who is also the country’s defense minister, is heading to Washington DC on Monday, amid a scandal over the release of information providing the possible links of members of the Saudi royal family to 9/11, along with tensions over oil and the Iran deal.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks during his meeting with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir.
    © AP Photo / Kevin Lamarque/Pool
    Prince Mohammed, 30, who is King Salman's son and third in line for the throne, is said to be visiting Washington to engage in talks with US officials regarding "strengthening bilateral relations and discussing regional matters of mutual interest,” the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement. Mohammed is the main voice behind the “Vision 2030,” a plan to move the Saudi economy away from reliance on oil.

    The Saudi government recently threatened to sell off US investments if the Senate passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, promoted to simplify the process for families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia and other foreign sponsors of terror. President Barack Obama promised to veto the bill should it pass, likely due to the fact that a Treasury Department report in May revealed that Saudi Arabia holds some $116.8 billion in US debt.

    The bill was passed but an amendment was added at the final moment by Senator Charles Schumer, granting the attorney general and secretary of state the power to stop any litigation against the Saudi government.

    During a hearing at a House Foreign Relations Subcommittee in May, former 9/11 Commission-member Tim Roemer refused to rule out the possibility that the Saudi Royal family knew about the terror plot prior to the attack.

    During the hearing, Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher asked the four-person panel whether they “believed that the royal family of Saudi Arabia did not know and was unaware that there was a terrorist plot being implemented that would result in an historic terrorist attack in the United States, in the lead up to 9/11?”

    Roemer and Simon Henderson, the director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, did not raise their hands.

    “Congressman, that is just too difficult a question for someone to raise their hand or put their hand down,” Roemer explained, before suggesting that Rohrabacher read the 28-pages of the 9/11 report that were deemed classified, regarding international support for the attack.

    Fifteen of the 19 hijackers responsible for the attack were from Saudi Arabia, and lawmakers have long hinted that the 28 classified pages in the report implicate Riyadh in providing material and logistical assistance.

    The US/Saudi relationship has also been strained due to America’s growing energy independence and the recent historic nuclear agreement with rival nation Iran. The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia has long fallen under the model of exchanging American military security for oil.

    It is unclear how long the Prince will remain in the United States. He is accompanied by a ministerial delegation including Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and Commerce and Investment Minister Majid al-Qasabi.

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    Tags:
    Oil, Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, King Salman, Prince Mohammed, Iran, Washington, DC, Saudi Arabia
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