World

Saudis welcome Trump with gold medal, receive arms package

Saudis welcome Trump with gold medal, receive arms package

The agreement is said to bolster security "in the face of Iranian threats".

After meeting with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Trump hailed the interaction as "tremendous" and said an arms deal signed between the two countries would lead to "jobs, jobs, jobs".

Saudi Arabia is the first stop of President Trump's so called "World Religion Tour", where he will meet with leaders from the three main world religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

While most U.S. presidents make their first foreign trip to neighbouring Canada or Mexico, 70-year-old Trump has opted instead for the Middle East and Europe. The White House bungled the president's stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing a federal investigation into possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

King Salman gave a more favorable welcome to Trump than he had granted past year to Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, who was seen in the Arab kingdom as soft on Iran and hesitant on Syria.

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.

Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.

USA conglomerate General Electric said it signed agreements and memorandums of understanding worth $15 billion with Saudi Arabia on Saturday during President Donald Trump s visit to the oil-rich kingdom.

Trump bent down so the king could place the gold medal around his neck.

Saudi Arabia has previously bestowed the honour on Russian president Vladimir Putin, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Obama.

The harder line on Iran will be very welcome in Saudi Arabia and among its Arab Gulf allies, who saw Trump's predecessor Barack Obama as too soft on Tehran. But the Obama administration pulled back its offer to sell precision-guided munitions to the country over concerns the Saudis were targeting civilians in Yemen, where they've been conducting a war against Iran-backed rebels.

After spending much of Saturday meeting with King Salman and other royal family members, Trump was ending the day at a banquet dinner at the Murabba Palace. The two were overheard discussing natural resources and arms, and Salman bemoaned the destruction caused by Syria's civil war.




The expected announcement of an arms deal worth more than $100 billion - potentially one of the biggest in U.S. history - would also be good news for both Trump and the Saudis.

The arms deals included a Jane's catalog of military equipment, the State Department said: Tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, ships, patrol boats, aircraft and missile defenses.

National oil giant Saudi Aramco was also expected to sign $50 billion of deals with US companies on Saturday, part of a drive to diversify the kingdom's economy beyond oil exports, Aramco's chief executive Amin Nasser said.

Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major USA companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis.

Among them was a 15 billion U.S. dollar arrangement with GE focused on power, oil and gas, and health care.

Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon also make a brief appearance in the clip.

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

The Saudis' welcome appeared to lift the spirits of Trump's beleaguered staff, ensnared in a seemingly endless cycle of negative stories involving Comey's firing and the intensifying Russian Federation investigations.

After a lavish lunch with the Saudi delegation, Mr Kushner high-fived national security adviser H.R. McMaster. 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.

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".

Mr Trump will use his first visit to the Middle East to call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a "battle between good and evil" and urging Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship", according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.