Trump abroad as troubles mount at home

Multi-billion dollar deals between the US and Saudi Arabia will be signed on Saturday as US President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip begins in Riyadh.

Trump and his wife Melania were greeted in the Saudi capital by King Salman on Saturday morning local time.

The eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

The visit comes as Trump faces uproar at home following his sacking of FBI director James Comey.

He has strongly criticized the decision to appoint a special counsel to oversee an inquiry into alleged Russian influence on the US election.

Trump is accompanied on his visit by his daughter Ivanka, an unpaid White House adviser, and her husband Jared Kushner, a key member of the Trump cabinet.

Like British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on their recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Mrs Trump and Ivanka Trump did not wear headscarves.

In January 2015, Trump criticized then-First Lady Michelle Obama for doing the same. In a tweet, Trump said she had “insulted” her hosts.

On Sunday, Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and speak about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”. Aides say the president hopes his speech will resonate worldwide and express “a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity”.

Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

The summit agenda is expected to focus on combating Islamist militants and the growing regional influence of Iran.

Trump has been a fierce critic of the international deal with Iran which eased sanctions in return for a curb on its nuclear activities.

Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, he is not expected to highlight human rights during his trip.

In a tweet, King Salman praised Trump, adding that he hoped his visit would “strengthen our strategic co-operation”. He later handed the US President Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour, the King Abdulaziz medal.

President Trump’s Saudi royal hosts have pulled out all the stops for this visit. They are lavishing him with an extravagant welcome not shown to his predecessor, Barack Obama, whom they felt was soft on their rival, Iran.

Many Saudis are immensely proud that, despite his mounting troubles at home, the US president has chosen their country as the first stop on his inaugural overseas tour. But pressed further, a lot of ordinary Saudis will voice their dislike of US policies in the region and their conviction that the US, and by extension the West, is intrinsically anti-Islamic.

On Sunday President Trump will try to address these concerns in a speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations in which he will call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance.

Some have already commentated that Donald Trump is an unusual choice to deliver such a message but for now, Saudi officials are giving him the benefit of the doubt.

One Response to Trump abroad as troubles mount at home

  1. Alex Alleyne May 20, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Mr. President when are you coming to the Caribbean with some of those BIG $$$$$$$$. CARICOM need some real bad.
    HURRY, HURRY PLEASE.

    Reply

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