Economy

US President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia

US President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia

The first lady dressed conservatively in a black pantsuit with a golden belt as the pair left Air Force One and were greeted by King Salman.

President Donald Trump has landed in Saudi Arabia for his first stop overseas since taking office, a visit meant to bolster partnerships overseas that aides hope can reset a scandal-pocked narrative back home.

The president and First Lady Melania Trump waved as they stood at the top of stairs that had been rolled to the side of the official presidential aircraft after it landed.

Trump remains popular in the Gulf, where leaders hope he'll take a harder line on Iran than his predecessor Barack Obama.

Trump's criticism of the nuclear deal Iran reached with the USA and five other world powers in 2015 pleases both Saudi Arabia and Israel, who accused Obama on "going soft" on Tehran. The trip has been billed as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions while including meetings with Arab, Israeli and European leaders.

Melania Trump's decision not to wear a headscarf upon arrival in the Middle East is drawing attention on social media.

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Some pundits questioned whether Salman would shake Trump's hand or even fearless the sweltering heat to walk out onto the runway, citing his older age.

After wrapping up his two-day visit, Trump will travel to Israel, Palestine and the Vatican and then on to Brussels and Sicily where he is to take part in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 summits.

Saudi Arabia offered Trump an elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay.

Billboards featuring the image of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump's luxury hotel in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president's face.

Trump and King Salman seemed at ease with each other, chatting through an interpreter.

The 70-year-old president's trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium will be Trump's longest time away from the White House since he took office four months ago.

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He said that voters should also keep in mind that the election outcome is extremely important for the country's foreign policy. The nuclear deal has been controversial in both the United States and Iran and debates in Iran have focused on this issue.

Prior to the ceremonial greeting on Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that Trump got very little sleep on the 14-hour flight, CNN reported.

More than a dozen horses flanked the presidential limousine Saturday as Trump was slowly driven to the Royal Court in Riyadh. On Sunday, he'll hold meetings with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders converging on Riyadh for a regional summit focused largely on combating the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

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.

Trump dodged one potential land mine when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted on war crime and genocide charges, announced that he would not attend the summit for personal reasons.

In another development, the Washington Post said a current White House official close to Trump was a significant "person of interest" in the investigation into possible ties between Trump's presidential campaign past year and Russian Federation.

On his Saudi trip, Trump has said he will ask Muslim leaders "to fight hatred and extremism and embrace a peaceful future for their faith". It noticeably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights - topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralising - in favour of the more limited goals of peace and stability.

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