Saudi leaders seek to convince President Donald Trump that his priorities are theirs, too, and that they are indispensable partners in fighting terrorism, in confronting Iran, in bolstering U.S. businesses and perhaps in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
When President Donald Trump heads to Saudi Arabia on Friday for his first trip overseas since taking office, it will be for much more than a run-of-the-mill state visit.
The Saudis have internationalized the event, organizing a sprawling “Arab Islamic American Summit” with leaders from dozens of Muslim countries and talks with the king, the inauguration of a counterterrorism center, forums for business executives and young people, and a country-music concert.
President Donald Trump is to depart Friday on an eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe. He will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Vatican City before he attends NATO and G-7 summits in Brussels and Sicily, respectively. Melania Trump is accompanying her husband on the trip. She will join the president for some events but will participate in other events on her own. The Trumps are scheduled to return to the United States on May 27.
Seattle Times news services
Saudi Arabia, home to some of Islam’s holiest sites, will be pulling out all the stops for a man who has declared “Islam hates us” and said the United States is “losing a tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.
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But Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies were so angry over President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies that they appeared prepared to dismiss Trump’s remarks as campaign rhetoric, and to see in him a possibility of resetting relations.
The reception seeks to convince Trump his priorities are Saudi leaders’, too, and they are indispensable partners in fighting terrorism, in confronting Iran, in bolstering U.S. businesses and perhaps in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“This administration has vision that matches the view of the kingdom with regards to the role of America in the world, with regards to getting rid of terrorism, with regards to confronting Iran, with regards to rebuilding relations with traditional allies, with regards to trade and investment,” Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday.
The number of events scheduled throughout the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday and Sunday is staggering, as the Saudis seek to project their country as a dynamic place, a leader in the Arab and Islamic worlds and a close ally of the United States.
The Stars and Stripes is flying in Riyadh’s streets, intermixed with Saudi flags.
There are three meetings planned: between Trump and King Salman, the Saudi monarch; between Trump and the leaders of a Gulf coalition, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; and between Trump…