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Saudi Arabian king presents Trump with top civilian honour

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s king presented US President Donald Trump with the kingdom’s top civilian honour on Saturday as Trump began a trip to Riyadh aimed at strengthening security and economic ties.

King Salman decorated Trump with the gold King Abdulaziz medal during a meeting at the royal court in the Saudi capital.

US and Saudi Arabian companies signed business deals worth tens of billions of dollars during Trump’s visit, as Riyadh seeks help to develop its economy beyond oil.

Read More: Melania Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia without headscarf

National oil firm Saudi Aramco said it signed $50 billion of agreements with US firms. Energy minister Khalid al-Falih said deals involving all companies totaled over $200 billion, many of them designed to produce things in Saudi Arabia that had previously been imported.

Business leaders on both sides were keen to demonstrate their talks had been a success, so there was an element of showmanship in the huge numbers. Some deals had been announced previously; others were memorandums of understanding that would require further negotiations to materialize.

Nevertheless, the deals illustrated Saudi Arabia’s hunger for foreign capital and technology as it tries to reduce its dependence on oil exports. Low oil prices in the past couple of years have slowed the economy to a crawl and saddled the government with a huge budget deficit.

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