Trump lands in Riyadh on first leg of foreign tour
- Author: Leroy Wright May 21, 2017,
May 21, 2017, 3:20
US President Donald Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the first stop on his maiden global trip since taking office in January. Trump is to deliver a speech on Sunday aimed at rallying Muslims in the fight against Islamic militants in Riyadh on Sunday.
Trump was joined by first lady Melania Trump and several senior White House aides who were interspersed with Saudi officials throughout a grand ballroom.
Trump was greeted by King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
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 previous year to welcome President Barack Obama on his final visit to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Trump was largely kept away from reporters during a busy day of meetings and ceremonies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The medal, given to Trump for his efforts to strengthen ties in the region, has also been bestowed on Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
"The big question mark that you should bear in mind is if Saudi Arabia signs up for a $100 billion arms deal with oil prices where they are today, how are they actually going to pay that in the future?" said Bruce Riedel, former Central Intelligence Agency analyst and counterterrorism expert now with the Brookings Institution. ARMS DEAL After a royal banquet, Trump and the king were to have private talks and participate in a signing ceremony for a number of U.S. -Saudi agreements, including a $100 billion deal for Saudi Arabia to buy American arms.
Before departing, the president tweeted he would be "strongly protecting American interests" on his marathon eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.
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.
Trump and Salman spoke through an interpreter inside the airport terminal after the president stepped off Air Force One.
Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major US companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis. They exchanged a handshake and Trump said it was "a great honor" to be there.
In Riyadh, a five-story image of Trump's face was projected on the exterior of the hotel he is staying at. A military brass band played, cannons boomed and seven Saudi jets flew over in V-formation, trailing red, white and blue smoke. He will also attend a summit with Gulf leaders as part of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. He's the only American president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop overseas as president.
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.