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Sun May 21, 2017, 02:03 PM

To Trump, Human Rights Concerns Are Often a Barrier to Trade

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson had some advice on Saturday for Iran’s newly re-elected president. The Trump administration, he said, hopes Tehran “restores the rights of Iranians to freedom of speech, to freedom of organization, so that Iranians can live the life that they deserve.”

As he said that at a news conference, Mr. Tillerson was standing next to the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who represents a government that does not guarantee free speech or many other rights. When Mr. Tillerson turned to leave, a reporter asked if he had anything to say about human rights in Saudi Arabia. The secretary departed without answering.

President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia underscored the calculation he and his foreign policy advisers have made when it comes to questions of human rights around the world.

Mr. Trump and his team made clear they are willing to publicly overlook repression in places like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states whose leaders are meeting here this weekend — as long as they are allies in areas the president considers more important, namely security and economics.


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