US, Saudis seek 'enduring strategic partnership': White House

The two leaders also discussed opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in Saudi Arabia. The prince is leading the Kingdom's economic overhaul to become less dependent on oil.

Tweeting the picture of the launch, Shireen Qudosi wrote: "Pioneering, forward thinking Saudi Arabia where these men...identify as girls". A senior Saudi adviser said the meeting "is considered a historical turning point in relations between both countries", and "restored issues to their right path".

It will be the first meeting between the powerful son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is spearheading a Saudi economic reform plan, and the United States president since Trump came to office in January.

The call for warmer relations between the US and Saudi Arabia follows a period of tension between the two countries under the Obama administration.

When photos of a supposedly all-male panel at a meeting of a "Girls Council" in Qassim Province, Saudi Arabia went viral, British and American media predictably jumped on the story.

In a statement, Salman defended Trump's executive order imposing a travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries and characterized their meeting as a positive reinforcement of the U.S. -Saudi relationship.

The White House said Wednesday that the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stability in the Middle East, which is confronted with Iran's nuclear ambitions and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

The move, if firmed up, would be a big step for the Saudi economy as the government tries to diversify beyond oil exports and create jobs as part of its 2030 Vision.

In contrast, the kingdom has expressed optimism about rebuilding its alliance with Washington and working with the Trump Administration to contain Iran's reach in the region. There was no confirmation from the White House regarding the visit. Also, Trump's anti-Iran stance tremendously benefits Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative nations on earth, where women are unable to drive and homosexuality is punishable by death.

  • Jon Douglas