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US first lady ignores Trump criticism and shuns headscarf

21 May 2017

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (R), US President Donald Trump (2nd L) and US First Lady Melania Trump look at a display of Saudi modern art at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017.

Trump's warm welcome reflected the degree to which Saudi Arabia had become disillusioned with Obama.

"Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted". But it's increasingly clear that the swirl of controversy will shadow Trump during his stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican and Belgium.

Air Force One departed on Friday from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, outside Washington, with the president, first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as a group of senior advisers and journalists covering the trip. The 81-year-old King Salman, who used a cane for support, was brought to the steps of the plane in a golf cart.

Salman said on Twitter, "We welcome @POTUS Trump to KSA. We have enuf enemies", he tweeted, using a short-hand spelling for "enough". "Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead".

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U.S. President Donald Trump walks with Saudi King Salman during an elaborate welcome ceremony at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport. Saudi Arabia has previously bestowed the honor on Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Obama.

White House officials hope the trip, complete with images of the accompanying pomp and pageantry of a president overseas, will help Mr Trump recalibrate after one of the most hard stretches of his young presidency.

Trump has fueled the Russian Federation controversy by firing the man who was originally leading the Russian Federation probe, FBI Director James Comey, in an apparent bid to stop the investigation.

Reports also emerged that Trump had called Comey "a nut job" and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had identified a senior White House official as a "significant person of interest" in its probe of Russian meddling. In addition, Comey agreed to testify at an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee in the near future, the panel said.

U.S. defence contractors are major suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which for more than two years has led a coalition conducting airstrikes and other operations against rebels in Yemen. Saudi's ruling family grew deeply frustrated with Obama's detente with Iran and his restrained approach on Syria. A five story image of Trump's face was projected on the exterior of the Ritz Carlton hotel where he'll stay, and large billboards of Trump and King Salman lined the highway from the airport.

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Women in Saudi Arabia, including visitors and foreign dignitaries, are expected to be fully covered in public, including their head and hair, according to the country's religious and legal codes, ABC News reported.

Two years ago, then-citizen Trump criticized then-first lady Michelle Obama's decision to go bare-headed on a January 2015 visit with her husband.

Trump renominates 2 highest military officers MORE did not wear a scarf during a 2012 trip as secretary of state.

In a sweetener for Saudi Arabia, US officials said the Trump administration plans to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to the kingdom during the trip.

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US first lady ignores Trump criticism and shuns headscarf