Riyadh, May 20 (IANS) US President Donald Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, marking the beginning of his first foreign trip as President that includes visits to Israel, the Vatican City, Belgium and Italy.
Trump and his wife Melania landed at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport around 9.45 a.m. and were greeted with an elaborate welcoming ceremony, punctuated by a military brass band, a fighter jet flyover and a handshake from Saudi King Salman, the New York Times reported.
Melania stood near her husband without a headscarf, in the tradition of previous American first ladies.
She followed the example of her predecessor Michelle Obama, who during a visit to the country in 2015, attended several public events without a headscarf, ABC News reported.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were also travelling as part of the presidential entourage. Ivanka was also seen not wearing an abaya (traditional robe).
“Great to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead,” Trump tweeted shortly after his arrival.
Trump was due to spend much of Saturday in meetings with King Salman and his government, including the powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The US President’s trip was greeted with public enthusiasm. Huge billboards around the city featured Trump and King Salman, while the city’s roads were lined with alternating American and Saudi flags.
During his two-day visit, Trump is expected to announce a $100 billion-plus arms deal with Saudi Arabia as evidence of a renewed commitment by the United States to the security of the Gulf region, CNN reported.
The Trumps will join the Saudi royal family for an official dinner on Saturday night.
Coinciding with the start of his visit, Riyadh organised a Saudi-American business forum to strengthen investments and bilateral trade.
On Sunday, Trump will participate in a meeting with member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as a summit with leaders and representatives from around 50 Middle Eastern and Islamic countries.
Parallel to these meetings, a forum for the fight against terror and extremism is to be held, sponsored by the Saudi-led anti-terror military coalition.
After wrapping up his two-day visit, Trump will travel to Israel, the Vatican and then on to Brussels and Sicily where he is to take part in NATO and G7 summits.