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Sun May 21, 2017, 09:27 AM

As Trump prepared for Riyadh visit, Saudis blocked U.S. on terrorist sanctions

By Joby Warrick May 20 at 3:42 PM

Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom touted by President Trump as a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State, has helped block a Trump administration proposal to impose sanctions against a Saudi branch of the terrorist group, documents show.

The plan to add the Islamic State’s Saudi affiliate to a U.N. list of terrorist groups was quietly killed two weeks ago in a bureaucratic maneuver at the U.N. Security Council, records show. U.S. officials familiar with the move said the Saudis objected to the public acknowledgment of the existence of a separate Saudi offshoot of the terrorist group inside the kingdom.

“They don’t want to admit they have an issue in their back yard,” said a U.S official familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy.

The news of the maneuver comes as Saudi Arabia hosts Trump in Riyadh in his first visit to a foreign capital since becoming president. U.S. and Saudi officials are expected to use the visit to underscore close cooperation between the two countries in battling Islamist extremist groups. Riyadh has contributed money, arms and fighter jets to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria.


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