Melania Trump says no to headscarf in Saudi Arabia visit

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2017

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

According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the sum of the record arms contract exceeded $109.7 bln.

National oil firm Saudi Aramco said it signed $50 billion of agreements with USA firms. At the royal al-Yamama palace, the king draped around Trump's neck the king Abdulaziz medal, the country's top civilian honor.

Amid a mood of frustration, officials on board Trump's Riyadh-bound presidential plane scrambled to coordinate on responding to the story with staff in Washington and those who had just landed in the Saudi capital.

The agreements envisage the development and modernization of the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia, in particular, the improvement of the systems of Saudi air defense and "smart weapons" and establishment of facilities for production of other types of weapons on the territory of the Kingdom.

He said 16 agreements with 11 companies would be signed, including memorandums of understanding for joint ventures.

In 2015, President Trump blasted then-First Lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a Saudi visit.

Trump said Sunday he would accept an invitation made by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to visit Egypt. Trump said the visit would happen before long.

The Prime Minister, upon arrival at the King Salman airbase, was received by Governor of Riaydh Prince Faisal bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and senior officials.

Iran's policy in the region became one of the key issues during the final press conference of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

Tillerson said Rouhani should use his second term to end Iran's ballistic missile testing and stop promoting extremism in a volatile region.

FUNDSEven as it sought USA investment on Saturday, Riyadh made two announcements on plans to deploy its own financial reserves for projects that would cement economic ties with the United States. This happened for the first time in the United States history and Riyadh attaches importance to this fact.

In Trump's Sunday speech, which is the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, he will address 50 Muslim and Arab leaders and urge them to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship". The Arab media immediately drew attention to this fact, recalling that in April 2016, the former US President was given a much more "cold welcome".

"This package demonstrates the United States' commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region", the statement read.

Meanwhile the world's largest private equity fund, backed by the PIF, Japan's Softbank Group and other investors including US firms Apple Inc and Qualcomm, said on Saturday it had raised over $93 billion to invest in technology sectors such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

Trump held individual meetings with leaders of several nations, including Egypt and Qatar, before participating in a round-table with the Gulf Cooperation Council and joining Saudi King Salman in opening Riyadh's new anti-terrorism center.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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