International

Trump lands in Riyadh on first leg of foreign tour

RIYADH: US President Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Saturday for the start his first foreign tour since taking office.

A red carpet was rolled out and staircase rolled up to Air Force One minutes after it landed shortly before 9:50 am (0650 GMT) local time.

Trump and his wife Melania, who dressed conservatively in black but did not cover her hair, walked side-by-side to the tarmac where they both shook hands with Saudi King Salman.

Trump’s daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner exited from the rear of the plane, holding hands as they walked across the tarmac.

The US president and King Salman made their way to a reception room at King Khalid International Airport, where they chatted over coffee. Melania Trump was seated to the king’s left.

Trump will hold talks with leaders in the ultra-conservative kingdom later Saturday and is to give a speech on “hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam” to some 50 Arab and Muslim leaders on Sunday.

He is accompanied by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, economic adviser Gary Cohn and security adviser Dina Powell on his eight-day tour, which will also take him to Jerusalem and the Vatican.

Trump’s first foreign visit presents a major diplomatic test for the president as a scandal around his office’s alleged links to Russia heats up back home.

His ties to Gulf Arab states are expected to be an improvement over those of Barack Obama, whose overtures to Saudi Arabia’s Shiite rival Iran strained ties with Riyadh. Trump has also adopted more muted rhetoric on human rights.

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