U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in the Middle East on Saturday, touching down in Saudi Arabia to begin his first trip abroad, a visit aimed at forging stronger alliances to combat terrorism while seeking to push past the series of controversies threatening to engulf his young administration.
Trump flew to Riyadh overnight on Air Force One and was greeted by an elaborate welcoming ceremony at Riyadh’s airport, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from Saudi King Salman.
The two men signed a series of agreements cementing their countries’ military and economic partnerships. One is a military sales deal of about $110 billion US, taking effect effective immediately. Another $350 billion US arms deal is to play out over the next 10 years.
The two countries also announced a defence co-operation agreement and private sector agreements that are intended to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defence industry.
“This package of defence equipment and services support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the kingdom’s ability to contribute to counter-terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations,” the White House said in a statement.
It praised the agreements as a way to expand opportunities for U.S. in the region and support “tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defence industrial base.”
Trump is the only American president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop overseas as president — a scheduling choice designed in part to show respect to the region after more than a year of harsh anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric.
The president’s stop in Saudi Arabia kicks off an ambitious international debut. 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 NATO summit in…