President Trump and Saudi King Salman meet in Riyadh

Cheryl Sanders
May 20, 2017

Trump's selection of Saudi Arabia as his maiden overseas trip perhaps signals that he is ready to change his behavior and tone to embrace a country responsible for widespread human rights violations and an escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is the primary destination for USA arms sales, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, with the Kingdom purchasing almost 10 percent of US exports from 2011 to 2015.

Trump will also travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 meeting in Sicily.

Melania Trump was seated to the king's left. Aides say the president hopes his speech will resonate worldwide and express "a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity".

The US president and King Salman made their way to a reception room at King Khalid International Airport, where they chatted over coffee. "Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead".

Mr Kushner is also a senior White House adviser and headed negotiations with Saudi counterparts led by deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the defence sale and Saudi investment plan. This week, the Justice Department relented to pressure from Democrats and named former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the probe.

The New York Times reported Trump had called Comey a "nut job" in a private meeting last week in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. They exchanged a handshake and Trump said it was "a great honor" to be there. His firing of Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign's ties to Russian Federation previous year has triggered a stream of bad headlines. The kingdom's ruling family grew deeply frustrated with former President Barack Obama's detente with Iran and his restrained approach to the conflict in Syria. The king did not greet Obama at the airport during his final visit to the nation a year ago.

Despite those troubles, Trump was warmly received in Saudi Arabia in contrast to his predecessor.

At the time when Washington's relationship with Riyadh was strained as the United States sought to reach a nuclear deal with the kingdom's rival Iran.

Except that for many moments in Trump's presidency, there is an old tweet from his feed to resurrect that seems to contradict his current actions - and the arrival here was no exception.

Trump, who landed from Washington hours earlier, was slated to attend a welcoming ceremony and a lunch with Saudi King Salman. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters on Air Force One that Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

Also joining the president: first lady Melania Trump, who disembarked Air Force One alongside her husband Saturday in a flowing black jumpsuit with a gold belt. Her husband had criticized former first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a 2015 visit to the kingdom.

And, just seven days after taking office on January 20, Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. "Prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and improve the security of the American people". The agreement will provide tanks, ships, and missile defense systems to the kingdom in an attempt to bolster its regional military prowess.

Mr Trump will addresses the leaders of Arab and Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Find us on Facebook too!

Other reports by iNewsToday