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Trump receives regal welcome in Saudi Arabia

21 May 2017

As the Trump women descended the steps of Air Force One and onto the tarmac here in Riyadh, their hair showed as Saudi King Salman greeted President Trump with an elaborate welcome ceremony. He is the only American president to make Saudi Arabia - or any Muslim-majority nation - his first overseas trip.

After wrapping up his two-day visit, Trump will travel to Israel, Palestine and the Vatican and then on to Brussels and Sicily where he is to take part in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 summits.

Trump and King Salman seemed at ease with each other, chatting through an interpreter. A military brass band played, cannons boomed and seven Saudi jets flew over in V-formation, trailing red, white and blue smoke.

At a later ceremony at the grand Saudi Royal Court, the king placed the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, the nation's highest civilian honor, around Trump's neck.

White House officials hope the trip gives Trump the opportunity to recalibrate after one of the most hard stretches of his young presidency.

Trump waved from the doorway after Air Force One touched down and before descending the staircase with first lady Melania Trump.

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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.

The draft also notably did not contain the words "radical Islamic terror", a phrase Trump repeatedly criticized his 2016 president rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for not using during last year's campaign.

Soon after, Trump tweeted for the first time on global soil as president.

During the two-day visit, Sharif will also hold talks with Saudi leadership and will discuss several economic and security agreements.

Less than a year ago, Trump vilified the Saudi influence on USA foreign policy, openly accused the kingdom of being behind the 9/11 terror attacks, and demanded the U.S. be paid for protecting the monarchy.

While most United States presidents make their first foreign trip to neighbouring Canada or Mexico, 70-year-old Trump has opted instead for the Middle East and Europe. Her husband had criticized former first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a 2015 visit to the kingdom.

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Before departing, the president tweeted he would be "strongly protecting American interests" on his marathon trip.

After an overnight flight, the president was greeted at the airport by King Salman, which was notable given that the monarch did not show up a year ago to welcome President Barack Obama on his final visit to Saudi Arabia.

"President Trump understands that America First does not mean America alone", said H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser. The deal includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology.

On Sunday, Trump and the king were to join more than 50 regional leaders for meetings focused on combating the Islamic State group and other extremists.

On the sidelines of the summit, Sharif is likely to meet the world leaders who will be attending the conference, including Trump, the Geo News reported.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters on the plane that Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

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Trump planned to urge unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a "battle between good and evil" and appealing to Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship", according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.

Trump receives regal welcome in Saudi Arabia