Saudi king hails Trump’s ‘visionary’ new Iran strategy, White House says
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Saudi king hails Trump’s ‘visionary’ new Iran strategy, White House says

In phone call between the two leaders, monarch vows to support US leadership in dealing with arch-foe

US President Donald Trump, right, holds a bilateral meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump, right, holds a bilateral meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Saudi Arabia’s king praised US President Donald Trump for his “visionary” new strategy vis-a-vis Iran during a phone call between the two leaders on Saturday, the White House said Sunday.

“King Salman praised President Trump for his visionary new Iran strategy and pledged to support American leadership,” the White House said in a readout of the conversation.

“President Trump thanked King Salman for Saudi Arabia’s support and emphasized the importance of the Gulf Cooperation Council in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region,” the statement went on.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are arch-foes and have a historic rivalry in the region as they each fight for dominance.

Trump announced on Friday that he was launching a tougher strategy to check Iran’s “fanatical regime,” and said he would not recertify the nuclear deal to Congress, warning that the 2015 landmark international agreement could be terminated at any time.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear control accord reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — was signed in 2015 and saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for limitations place on it nuclear program to prevent it from producing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the deal, saying it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future.

Trump vowed Friday to also take a tougher approach toward Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.

Also on Friday, the US Treasury said it had taken action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards under a 2001 executive order to hit sources of terror funding and added four companies that allegedly support the group to its sanctions list.

Trump’s actions were also praised by Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu , who said the president’s move was “courageous,” and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman who called it “brave.”

Iran reacted with anger and mockery, with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying on Sunday that the move would hurt US credibility.

“Nobody else will trust any US administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any US administration would be the remainder of the term of that president,” told US media.

After Trump’s announcement last week, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany said they remained committed to the nuclear deal.

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