WASHINGTON: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to visit the United States on March 19 to hold meetings at the White House, US officials said on Wednesday.

The White House said President Donald Trump spoke with the crown prince on Tuesday and the two leaders discussed regional developments and opportunities to further enhance the American-Saudi partnership on a range of security and economic issues.

President Trump thanked the Prince Mohammed for his leadership “in highlighting ways all Gulf Cooperation Council states can better counter Iranian destabilising activities and defeat terrorists and extremists”, the White House said.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of regional cooperation and a united Gulf Cooperation Council to mitigate regional threats and ensure the region’s economic prosperity,” it added.

The US media reported that Prince Mohammad’s visit to Washington is a part of the Saudi efforts to improve its ties with the West and seek support from major Western powers for its efforts to modernise the kingdom.

Prince Mohammed, who was named heir in June 2017, is scheduled to visit to Britain on March 7 for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May. He will also visit France in late March.

President Trump hosted Prince Mohammed in March 2017, just weeks after taking office, and he chose Saudi Arabia for his first official overseas visit as president.

In the US, the Saudi Crown Prince will also visit other cities, including New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, to discuss economic cooperation, investments and Vision 2030.

Abu Dhabi Crown Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani are also scheduled to visit the United States, but the dates of their trips have not been announced yet. The United States is setting up a Gulf Cooperation Council summit to try to resolve the Qatar diplomatic crisis.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2018