US President Donald Trump has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking office, in a crucial test abroad as political scandals mount at home.
In a red-carpet airport welcome, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud greeted Trump, his wife Melania and his entourage shortly after they landed in the capital, Riyadh, around 06:50 GMT on Saturday.
Trump will hold a series of meetings with the king and other Arab and Muslim leaders on Saturday and Sunday, before jetting off to Israel, the occupied Palestinian Territories, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy in a nine-day tour across the Middle East and Europe.
During the two-day visit to the kingdom, Trump is expected to sign a major weapons deal, give a speech on Islam and discuss the battle against “terrorism” with more than 50 leaders.
It is the first time a US president has chosen Saudi Arabia as the first stop on a maiden trip.
Trump’s visit is seen as highly symbolic, as he looks to repair Washington’s ties with its closest Arab ally.
During the final years of Barack Obama’s US presidency, “relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion”, according to Saudi officials. These differences were largely centred around the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the Obama administration’s cautions to the kingdom about the civilian toll of the war in Yemen.
Al Jazeera’s Washington editor James Bays, reporting from Riyadh, said the Saudis were very “proud and excited” that the US president chose the Gulf country as his first stop.
“They want a reset of the relationship with the US. They were not happy with Obama, and they were not happy with the US policy in Yemen and in Syria,” Bays said.
Ahmed Alibrahim, a Saudi political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the Saudis see this as a “great day” for relations with the US.
“We think President Trump’s cabinet does understand the Saudi challenges and does understand the challenges the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] faces.”
He added that the kingdom would like to see more “decisive statements, actions and sanctions on the Iranian regime”.
Prior to the trip, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said the visit will “bolster the strategic partnership between the two countries”.
He added, that “several agreements will be signed, including political agreements … and big economic agreements”.
Marwan Kabalan, an analyst at the Doha Institute’s Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, told Al Jazeera the US and Saudi Arabia will discuss a strategic plan aimed at countering “extremism” as an ideological battle.
“I think both sides have high expectations of this summit, as they are expected to discuss the most pressing issues for both of them like the conflict in Yemen, the war in Syria and the war on ISIL,” Kabalan said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant armed group, also known as ISIS.
“Trump is expected to address the entire Islamic world while trying to establish this sort of a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, particularly concerning groups like ISIL.”
via /Al Jazeera’s