US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he “changed course” on his opinion of Saudi Arabia, adding that he will encourage other Senators to come to the Kingdom and see for themselves the changes implemented and progress achieved under Vision 2030.
Graham met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi leaders on Tuesday.
Asked about his previous comments against Saudi Arabia in 2018 and his declaration back then of never visiting the Kingdom or doing business with it, Graham told Al Arabiya: “The world has changed. Saudi Arabia has taken a new path. 2018 still looms large, I’ll just be honest with you. But, I see things happening here, that I didn’t think were possible, I thought it was all talk, so, I’m here to see it for myself.”
#US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he “changed course” on his opinion of #SaudiArabia, adding that he will encourage other Senators to come to the Kingdom and see for themselves the changes implemented and progress achieved under #Vision2030.https://t.co/mg3TqZ6m6K pic.twitter.com/AqZX0Vn3tO— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) April 17, 2023
He added: “I’m going to go back home and tell my colleagues: You need to go to Saudi Arabia and see what’s going on. If you can achieve Vision 2030, it will make Saudi Arabia a tourist destination; it will make it a better business partner. And if we can seize this moment to make a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia militarily and economically, I think it is worth my time to come back and be part of that.”
Graham pointed out: “[Saudi Arabia] bought $37 billion [worth] of aircraft made in my state and my country; I think more is coming. So, as a United States senator, I reserve the right to change course. Saudi Arabia has changed course.”
He, however, added, seemingly in reference of the China brokered deal normalizing ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran: “It doesn’t mean there are not problems… there’s one thing I want you to know, I understand dealing with China to a point; I understand dealing with Iran to a point.”
Graham then addressed ongoing progress to return Syria to the Arab League fold, saying: “But here’s what I told the leadership of your country, any agreement with [Syria’s President Bashar] al-Assad that will jeopardize American presence in northeastern Syria will be met with resistance.”
He added: “We have 2,500 soldiers in Baghdad; the Iranians are trying to drive us out of the region, they don’t want us here [because] we stand in the way of their long-term objectives.”