Trump meets with Saudi defense official amid Iran tensions

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE met with the Saudi vice minister of defense on Monday amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following a U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general.

Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted that he met with Trump under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to discuss "aspects of cooperation, coordination and joint work between the two friendly countries in various aspects, including joint efforts to confront regional and international challenges."

Khalid posted photos to social media of the Oval Office meeting, which was not listed on Trump's public schedule. National security adviser Robert O'Brien, deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates and senior White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerAbraham Accords: New hope for peace in Middle East Tenants in Kushner building file lawsuit alleging dangerous living conditions Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing MORE also attended.

Khalid also said he passed along a message from the crown prince to Trump.


The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the meeting, nor did it provide any readout of the meeting.

Trump in a tweet Tuesday afternoon said the two leaders discussed topics ranging from trade to security in the Middle East.

"Had a very good meeting with @kbsalsaud of Saudi Arabia. We discussed Trade, Military, Oil Prices, Security, and Stability in the Middle East!" the president said.


The meeting comes days after the U.S. killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, in a targeted strike in Baghdad. Soleimani oversaw Iranian proxy forces in the region and was one of the country's most prominent officials.

The strike has reignited tensions between Washington and Tehran and sparked concerns about a prolonged conflict. Iranian officials have vowed a response, while Trump has threatened to forcefully strike Iran if the country targets Americans or American assets over Soleimani's killing.

Saudi Arabia is one of the United States' key allies in the region and has fought Iran for influence in the Middle East via political and economic disputes and through an ongoing proxy war in Yemen.

But Trump has had a complicated relationship with the Saudis, particularly following the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the unpublicized nature of his Monday meeting with Khalid drew scrutiny from some critics.

The president repeatedly said he accepted the crown prince's denials of any involvement in the death of Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, citing the importance of the economic relationship between the U.S. and the kingdom.

The CIA ultimately concluded the crown prince ordered Khashoggi's killing and the U.S. sanctioned certain individuals tied to the incident.

The president of the White House Correspondents' Association, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, criticized the administration for breaking “long-standing precedent” by not including the Oval Office meeting with the Saudi official on the president’s schedule or providing a readout after it concluded.

“It is disturbing to see the government of Saudi Arabia have more transparency than the White House about a meeting with the President in the Oval Office," Karl said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Updated at 2:10 p.m.