Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia in first foreign trip as home troubles mount pressure

President Donald Trump has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking office, in a crucial test abroad as political scandals mount at home.

In a red-carpet airport welcome, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud greeted Trump, his wife Melania and his entourage shortly after they landed in the capital, Riyadh, around 06:50 GMT on Saturday.

Aljazeera report that, Trump will hold a series of meetings with the Saudi Arabia king and other Arab and Muslim leaders on Saturday and Sunday, before jetting off to Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy in a nine-day tour across the Middle East and Europe.

The US who signed deals worth more than $350bn (£270bn) with Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the arms deal was aimed at countering the “malign” influence of Iran.

“The package of defence equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” he told a news conference in Riyadh.
Mr Trump is accompanied on his visit by his daughter Ivanka, an unpaid White House adviser, and her husband Jared Kushner, a key member of the Trump administration.

Like British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on their recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Mrs Trump and Ivanka Trump did not wear headscarves.

The first lady and Ivanka appeared without headscarves on this visit despite Trump’s criticism of then-First Lady Michelle Obama via Twitter for not doing the same in 2015.

Trump is expected to attend the Arab Islamic American Summit on Sunday and will be speaking about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”. He hopes his speech will resonate worldwide and express “a common vision of peace, progress, and prosperity”.

Mr Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

In a tweet, King Salman praised Mr Trump, adding that he hoped his visit would “strengthen our strategic co-operation”. He later handed the US President Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour, the King Abdulaziz medal.

James Bays, reporting from Riyadh, said the Saudis were very “proud and excited” that the US president chose the Gulf country as his first stop.

“They want a reset of the relationship with the US. They were not happy with Obama, and they were not happy with the US policy in Yemen and in Syria,” Bays said.

Ahmed Alibrahim, a Saudi political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the Saudis see this as a “great day” for relations with the US.

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“We think President Trump’s cabinet does understand the Saudi challenges and does understand the challenges the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] faces.”

He added that the kingdom would like to see more “decisive statements, actions and sanctions on the Iranian regime”.

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