Trump basks in lavish Saudi welcome, escaping troubles in DC

The significant military and private sector deals agreed to by both sides send a "strong message to our common enemies", he stressed.

"That was a tremendous day". Michelle Obama attended without wearing a headscarf, drawing attention back in the United States about her lack of a traditional head covering in the conservative country.

On Saturday, the white House announced that President Donald Trump signed a military deal with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion in short terms and $350 billion over the next decade.

After an overnight flight, the president was greeted at the airport by King Salman, which was notable given that the monarch did not show up a year ago to welcome President Barack Obama on his final visit to Saudi Arabia. After two days of meetings in Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and meet with allies at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.

Air Force One touched down earlier Saturday at the King Khalid airport in Riyadh, where Trump was greeted on a red carpet-bedecked tarmac by King Salman and other high-level Saudi officials.

The 81-year-old king, walking with a cane, led the president and first lady into an airport reception room, where they chatted over coffee.

The president, confronted by growing political scandals at home, intends to use the visit to portray his administration as a global leader by helping birth an alliance with like-minded Muslim leaders to combat "radical Islamic terrorism" (Trump's phrase and one the Saudis do not want to use).

Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.

King Salman gave a more favorable welcome to Trump than he had granted previous year to Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, who was seen in the Arab kingdom as soft on Iran and hesitant on Syria.

The $110 billion deal for Saudi purchases of U.S. defense equipment and services came at the start of an eight-day foreign tour that will also take Mr. Trump to Jerusalem, the Vatican and meetings with leaders in Europe. The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications and cyber security technology.

In another development, the Washington Post said a current White House official close to Trump was a significant "person of interest" in the investigation into possible ties with Russian Federation.

On Friday, a report by The Washington Post that the probe into his campaign's Russian Federation ties had identified a "significant person of interest" in the White House undercut Trump's insistence his election bid had nothing to do with the Kremlin. This week, the Justice Department named a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in last year's election, including potential ties between Trump associates and Russian officials.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that an unidentified senior Trump adviser was being considered a "person of interest" in the investigation. A date of this open hearing would be scheduled after the Memorial Day, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday. The Saudis deeply distrusted Obama's overtures to Iran and were frustrated by his restrained approach to the Syrian civil war. Further, into the city, billboards featuring Trump alongside King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud could be seen all around.

"The two countries signed a series of agreements", Adel al-Jubeir told reporters at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He said he had no plans to talk to his Iranian counterpart but that he in all likelihood he would do so "at the right time".

As he arrived, the president waved from the doorway of Air Force One and then descended the steps, joined by first lady Melania Trump.

First Lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka arrived in Riyadh without headscarves.

Trump will call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a "battle between good and evil" and urging Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship", according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.


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