Saudi Arabia is America’s top weapons buyer – but it doesn’t spend as much as Trump boasts

President Donald Trump shows off posters as he talks with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. 










Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

President Donald Trump shows off posters as he talks with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Last week, Trump told reporters that he was disinterested in stopping a Saudi Arabian “investment of $110 billion into the United States,” despite tensions over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“I know [senators are] talking about different kinds of sanctions, but [Saudi Arabia is] spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs,” Trump said Thursday. “I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States.”

While Washington has several arms agreements with Riyadh, it is unclear where the $110 billion figure comes from, aside from a potential wish list of future deals.

Presently, Saudi Arabia has put forward approximately $14.5 billion in purchases in the form of letters of offer and acceptance or LOAs, a Pentagon official told CNN.

What’s more, the State Department has announced only six contracts worth a combined total of $4 billion since Trump’s visit last year to Saudi Arabia.

In March, Trump praised Saudi Arabia’s defense acquisitions as he met with the nation’s wealthy and powerful young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at the White House — and pushed for even more.

“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the time.

“There’s nobody that even comes close to us in terms of technology and the quality of the equipment, and Saudi Arabia appreciates that,” he added.

During the Oval Office talks, Trump touted a creation of 40,000 U.S. jobs due to Saudi military sales. The president used several maps and charts of Saudi acquisitions to further make his point.

The crown prince, likewise, added that last year’s Saudi pledge of $200 billion in investments will rise to approximately $400 billion and that a 10-year window to implement the deal was already under way.

Meanwhile, as the Khashoggi case unfolds, Trump threatened “severe punishment” if the journalist was in fact murdered.

A Saudi official said Sunday that Riyadh would retaliate if any steps were taken to punish the kingdom over the Khashoggi case, according to a state news agency.

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