Trump opens first presidential trip abroad in Saudi Arabia

Cheryl Sanders
May 20, 2017

In a sweetener for Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said the Trump administration planned to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to the kingdom.

During his eight-day trip, President Trump will also visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, Vatican City and Sicily.

Saudi and pan-Arab news channels showed Air Force One on the tarmac in Riyadh in front of a red carpet flanked by Saudi soldiers.

While Mrs. Trump dressed conservatively Saturday in a long-sleeved, black pantsuit accented with a wide, gold-colored belt, her below-the-shoulder brown hair blew in the breeze at King Khalid International Airport in the capital city of Riyadh.

"We hope that this historic event will be an important step in the eradication of the terrorism affecting people around the world without any exception", he added.

President Donald Trump will use his first visit to the Middle East to 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.

Pakistan is one of the closest allies of the Kingdom.

That hasn't dampened expectations for Trump's arrival in the Arab Gulf, however.

Mr Sharif, while accepting the invitation for the summit, has reaffirmed Pakistan's alliance with the Kingdom by recalling the commonality of views of two countries on most regional and global issues and their collaboration for achieving common interests and objectives.

Experts told Arab News that the visit by Trump will boost US-Arab ties after the relationship soured under his predecessor President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump will addresses the leaders of Arab and Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

It was "unlikely" that Sharif would get a one-on-one meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the summit, the report said.

"Unfortunately I don't have anything for you", a State Department official told Dawn when asked if the two leaders were going to have an exclusive meeting.

The summit is being discussed at every forum in the USA, from Congress to think tanks and the media.

Hillary Clinton, on trips to Saudi Arabia as Obama's secretary of state, also did not cover her head. Commentators in Washington noted that Iran's absence made it look like an anti-Iranian alliance, despite its declared aim of fighting terrorism.

Trump arrived as Iran's President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin, giving the moderate cleric a second, four-year term to continue pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The visit kicks off an ambitious global debut for Trump.

Ahead of Trump's trip, the White House said the president expected tangible results from Saudi Arabia in countering Islamic extremism. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh, emblazoned with the motto "Together we prevail". "Bilateral defence cooperation, counterterrorism and resolving the conflicts in Yemen and Syria" were some of the other key issues that the two leaders discussed.

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