US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he expected Saudi Arabia to join the agreement announced last week by Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize diplomatic ties and forge a broad new relationship.
"I do," Trump replied when asked at a White House news conference if he expected Saudi Arabia to join the deal.
Under the accord, which Trump helped broker, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the West Bank. The agreement also firms up opposition to regional power Iran, which the UAE, Israel and the United States view as the main threat in the Middle East.
In Saudi Arabia's first official comment since the agreement was announced, its foreign minister said on Wednesday the Sunni kingdom remained committed to peace with Israel on the basis of a 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
Saudi Arabia, which does not recognize Israel, drew up the initiative by which Arab nations offered to normalize ties with Israel in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.
Earlier in the news conference, Trump called the UAE-Israel accord a good deal and said "countries that you wouldn't even believe want to come into that deal." He did not name any other countries besides Saudi Arabia.
Trump also said the UAE was interested in buying F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin Co, which Israel has used in combat.
"They have the money and they would like to order quite a few F-35s," Trump said.
On the questions of Iran-US relations and Middle East peace, Trump said that “I see a lot of countries coming in fairly quickly. And when you have them all in, ultimately Iran will come in too. There’ll be peace in the Middle East. That’ll be nice. Iran will be very much neutralized. They never thought this could have happened. And with the horrendously stupid Iran deal signed by Obama, this could have never happened”
These statements were backed up by Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who said in a recent interview with Voice of America (VOA) that Trump, if reelected in the US presidential election in November, will attempt to restart Iran-US negotiations over the latter's nuclear weapons program and activities aimed at destabilizing the Middle East.
“For President Rouhani, I would say it’s time for the region to move forward. Let’s stop being stuck in conflicts of the past. It’s time for people to get together and to make peace,” Kushner said.
Kushner also suggested that a new Iran-US deal will help the former's economy.
“Peace is a noble thing. It’s a good thing and it’s a very important thing, if we want to have a world where everyone can have economic opportunity in order to live a better life than their parents,” he said.
“President Trump is willing to talk. He’s willing to meet,” Kushner told VOA, in reference to Iran’s Islamist rulers. “But ... he’s going to be tough."
“If there is a real deal where nuclear weapons are off the table, and we can make sure that it leads to a more prosperous Middle East, then I believe President Trump would sit and have discussions about it,” he added.
Regarding Iranian views of the upcoming US election, Trump suggested on August 11 that Tehran has a preference for Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden, saying “Their greatest dream in the world is that Joe Biden wins because they will own this country."
Trump and Kushner's comments come amid a directive the former gave to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the United Nations Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all previously suspended UN sanctions on Iran.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Pompeo will likely travel to New York on Thursday to seek a return of all UN sanctions on Iran and meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, diplomats and a UN official said.