Dubai – US President Donald Trump has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking the office. Trump was welcomed in Riyadh on Saturday by Saudi’s King Salman.
The president will be meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and other Arab and Muslim leaders on Saturday and Sunday.
Trump’s next stop will be Israel, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy in a nine-day tour across the Middle East and Europe.
In his two-day visit to the kingdom, Trump is expected to sign a major weapons deal, give a speech on Islam and discuss the battle against terrorism with more than 50 leaders.
Surprisingly, this is the first time a US president has chosen Saudi Arabia as the first stop on a maiden trip.
The visit is seen as highly symbolic, as Trump looks to repair the US relationship with its closest Arab ally.
During the final years of the Obama administration, a senior adviser to King Salman said “relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion”. These differences were largely centred around the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the Obama administration’s cautions to the kingdom about the civilian toll of the war in Yemen.
The Saudis are very proud and excited as the US president chose the Gulf country as his first stop.
Prior to the trip, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, said the visit will bolster the strategic partnership between the two countries.
He indicated that several agreements will be signed, including political agreements … and big economic agreements.
Trump is expected to address the entire Islamic world while trying to establish this sort of a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia.
On Saturday, Trump is expected to announce an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth more than $100bn, in what could be the biggest such agreement in history.
The Trump administration informed Congress on Friday that it will sell some $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. These include laser-guided Paveway II bombs and JDAM kits for converting unguided bombs into smart bombs.
Also on the agenda in Riyadh is a summit of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, including those from the six nations that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to discuss the fight against extremism.
Announcing the meeting, the Saudi foreign ministry said the historic summit should be the start to building a partnership between the Arab and Muslim worlds and the United States at various levels.