Trump signs $110B defense deal, receives warm welcome in Saudi Arabia

Olive Rios
May 22, 2017

Trump is the first United States president to make a Muslim-majority country his first overseas visit as president.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman during a bilateral meeting, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh.

"That was a tremendous day".

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir called the results of Trump's meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz "the beginning of a turning point" between the United States, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.

The deal includes a £4.6billion pledge for 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters to be assembled in Saudi Arabia, which will create 450 jobs.

Trump arrived as Iran's President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin, giving the moderate cleric a second, four-year term to continue pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The White House is touting the deal as a blow against Islamic extremist groups including ISIS, claiming it will boost security in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf against Iranian aggression and contribute to counterterrorism operations.

Trump signed a almost $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi government during the trip, significantly bolstering the U.S. -Saudi military alliance and selling the monarchic state equipment, including tanks, jets, naval warships and a sophisticated missile-defense system named THAAD - the same system the U.S.is using to defend against possible North Korean nuclear strikes on the Korean Peninsula.

"We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the USA and in the Kingdom".

Trump and King Salman rode into Riyadh together.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman presents President Trump with the collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal in Riyadh on Saturday. The pageantry continued inside the royal court, where member of the Trump administration took part in a traditional sword dance.

The mood in Riyadh was in sharp contrast to Washington where pressure is building after fresh claims over the Trump team's alleged links to Moscow.

His firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation head James Comey on May 9 and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign ties to Russia have raised the question of whether he tried to squelch a probe into allegations of a Russian connection.

Trump's daughter, Ivanka, a senior White House adviser who is accompanying her father, also did not cover her head.

After talks with senior Saudi officials on Saturday, Trump was to give a speech to dozens of Muslim leaders on Sunday.

The inclusion of such a speech has echoes of then-president Barack Obama's landmark speech at Cairo University on his visit to Egypt in 2009, where he also spoke of extremism and of tensions within communities.

It will be especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration's attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations and accusations of anti-Islamic rhetoric on the campaign trail.

For a president who campaigned on an "America First" platform, the trip is a crucial moment for USA allies to size up Trump's commitment to decades-long partnerships while trying to move behind his previous controversial statements.

After two days of meetings in Saudi Arabia, Trump was scheduled to travel to Israel, meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and join the world's major industrial nations at a Group of Seven gathering in Sicily.

The avalanche of revelations in the run-up to his departure has eroded Trump's standing at home.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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