Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country had no issues with U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, which is being called a “Muslim ban” by critics, while also pointing to a “successful” Saudi border wall with Iraq as an example for Trump’s planned wall with Mexico.
The two met at the White House Tuesday in what Saudi Arabia described as a “turning point” from Riyadh's often-fraught relationship with the Obama administration, especially in the wake of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
"This meeting is considered a historical turning point in relations between both countries... which had passed through a period of divergence of views on many issues," a senior adviser to Prince Mohammed said in a statement.
"But the meeting today restored issues to their right path and form a big change in relations between both countries in political, military, security and economic issues," the adviser said.
On a travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries, the adviser said Prince Mohammed did not regard it as one that was aimed at "Muslim countries or Islam."
Despite Trump making some of the most Islamophobic and anti-Islam comments in U.S. presidential history, Prince Mohammed "expressed his satisfaction after the meeting on the positive position and clarifications he heard from President Trump on his views on Islam," the advisor said, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, Trump signed a revised executive order on banning citizens from Yemen, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Libya from traveling to the United States but removed Iraq from the list after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the court.
The United Arab Emirates had expressed similar views to its Saudi ally about the first travel ban, saying it did not target Muslims.
The ban left hundreds of people stranded at airports across the U.S., sparking massive protests at the airports and seeing non-Muslim activists joining forces with the Muslim community to fight the policy.
The new order was also blocked Wednesday by a federal judge in Hawaii just hours before it was set to take effect at midnight.
The prince seemed to have also supported the U.S. president’s other xenophobic policy of building a wall along his country’s 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
The senior adviser said the leaders discussed the "successful Saudi experience of setting up a border protection system" on the Saudi-Iraq border which has prevented smuggling.
More than 600 companies have expressed an interest in building the Trump Wall, which he says will prevent illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing to the north.
Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies were some of the few nations in the world, along with Israel, to welcome the Trump presidency as his administration shares the same views on what they call the “Iranian threat.”
The deputy crown prince’s senior adviser said both leaders had identical views on "the danger of Iran's regional expansionist activities."
Besides feeling sidelined by the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal, just weeks before he left office the former president dealt another blow to U.S.-Saudi ties when he suspended the sale of U.S.-made precision guidance munitions to the Saudis, a reaction to thousands of civilian casualties from Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen.
The Saudis now expect such bans to be lifted under Trump. U.S. officials have said the president is considering ending that ban and approving the sale of guidance systems. The State Department has approved the move, which awaits a final White House decision, the officials said.