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Donald Trump bows to Saudi king and signs $110 billion arms deal with the Gulf state

It’s part of an eight-day foreign trip by the US President.

Source: CNN/YouTube

THE WHITE HOUSE has announced a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia as President Donald Trump took his first steps on the world stage, looking to leave mounting troubles behind at home.

The $110 billion deal for Saudi purchases of US defence equipment and services came at the start of an eight-day foreign tour that will also take Trump to Jerusalem, the Vatican and meetings with leaders in Europe.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said deals worth in excess of $380 billion were signed during Trump’s visit.

“That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States,” Trump said at talks with Saudi King Salman.

Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.

The US president was given a warm welcome in the oil-rich kingdom — a mood in sharp contrast to Washington where pressure is building after fresh claims over his team’s alleged links to Moscow.

Air Force One had barely taken off when it was announced late on Friday that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, had agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections.

PastedImage-26472 Source: realDonaldTrump

Reports also emerged that Trump had called Comey “a nut job” and that the FBI had identified a senior White House official as a “significant person of interest” in its probe of Russian meddling.

The president and first lady Melania Trump were greeted by King Salman as they disembarked at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh this morning.

‘Iranian threats’

Trump and his wife, who dressed conservatively in black but did not cover her hair as Saudi women are required to do, walked side-by-side to the tarmac where they both shook hands with the 81-year-old king.

Trump in 2015 criticised then-first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a visit to Saudi Arabia, saying on Twitter that her hosts had been “insulted”.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer hailed the defence agreement as the “largest single arms deal in US history”.

“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,” a White House official said.

Source: CNN/YouTube

As well as the talks with Salman, Trump was to meet the kingdom’s two powerful crown princes on Saturday, before giving a speech on Islam to leaders of Muslim countries tomorrow.

For Riyadh the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.

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Major speech to Muslim leaders

Tomorrow’s speech to dozens of Muslim leaders has been touted as a major event — along the lines of a landmark address to the Islamic world given by Obama in Cairo in 2009.

The speech will be especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations and accusations of anti-Islamic rhetoric on the campaign trail.

Trump wants Gulf states in particular to do more to tackle extremists such as the Islamic State jihadist group.

In return he is expected to take a harder line on Iran, where it was announced today that President Hassan Rouhani had won a resounding re-election victory as voters overwhelmingly backed his efforts to reach out to the world.

While most US presidents make their first foreign trip to neighbouring Canada or Mexico, 70-year-old Trump has opted instead for the Middle East and Europe.

He travels to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday and Tuesday, and then to the Vatican and to Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings.

© – AFP 2017

Read: Kenny says he raised human rights with Saudis but that ‘obviously includes women’s rights’ >

Read: Government: ‘We raised concerns on status of women with Saudi Arabia’ >

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