Saudi king tells Donald Trump Syrians 'brought destruction to their own country'

'Syria too used to be one of the most advanced countries,' King Salman tells President 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Saturday 20 May 2017 21:09
Comments
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud welcoming US President Donald J. Trump and US first lady Melania Trump, at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud welcoming US President Donald J. Trump and US first lady Melania Trump, at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport.

The king of Saudi Arabia, a major backer of rebel forces in Syria, appeared to lament the destruction caused by the civil war while meeting with Donald Trump in Riyadh.

“Syria too used to be one of the most advanced countries,” King Salman told Mr Trump, according to a White House press pool report.

“We used to get our professors from Syria,” the King continued. “They served our kingdom. Unfortunately, they too brought destruction to their own country. You can destroy a country in mere seconds, but it takes a lot of effort.”

King Salman greeted Mr Trump in Riyadh with a warm welcome, meeting the President on the airport's tarmac, which he did not do when Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia last year.

The Saudi Arabian capital is the US leader's first stop on his nine-day, five-country tour abroad.

The civil war in Syria has been underway for more than six years, fought between Bashar al-Assad's forces, anti-government rebels, Isis and Islamist groups linked with al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia provides significant military and financial assistance to several rebel groups.

Riyadh also criticised the Obama administration’s decision to not intervene in Syria militarily after Western countries accused Assad’s government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack.

In response to a sarin attack by pro-Assad forces that killed dozens of civilians, Mr Trump ordered air strikes against a Syrian airfield in April.

With the exception of that attack and another air strike in May, the US-led coalition in Syria is generally not fighting Assad’s government and is instead focusing military efforts on driving Isis out of swathes of territory.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in