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Trump says US is subsidising Saudi military, demands 'payment' Open in fullscreen

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Trump says US is subsidising Saudi military, demands 'payment'

Trump speaks to media as he leaves White House [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2018

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The US president has frequently protested that Washington spends far too much money protecting wealthy allies.

President Donald Trump on Saturday complained that the US is "subsidising" the Saudi military, just moments after he said "he loved Saudi Arabia".

The comment, at a West Virginia rally for local candidates of his Republican Party, follows similar jibes at European members of the NATO alliance.

"When you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidising their military?" asked Trump, who pushes an aggressive "America First" policy on trade.

"They'll pay us. The problem is nobody ever asks".

He added that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday to make the same point.

The US provides massive military protection to oil supplies in the Arabian Gulf, costing American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year, according to reports which consider this a form of "subsidy". 

Saudi Arabia is also a major buyer of US-made weaponry, and the US provides intelligence and aerial refuelling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. 

But Washington has come under increased fire for its military sales to Riyadh, whose war in Yemen has pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.

Trump has long complained that allies, particularly European members of NATO, do not pay enough for their own defence.

Trump's first foreign visit as US president was to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, where a military deal worth $110 billion between the two countries was penned.

Washington agreed at the time to sell weapons and services to Riyadh in what was one of the "biggest single arms deals" in US history.

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