President Donald Trump in Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz signed a nearly $110 billion arms deal Saturday to help the Persian Gulf ally combat terrorism and Iran.
“The package includes defense equipment and other support to help the Arab nation and the rest of the Gulf region again the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran terrorism,” according to the White House.
The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications and cybersecurity technology and the White House says it “in the clearest terms possible” shows the United States’ commitment to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies.
Saudi King Salman greeted President Trump on a red carpet as he stepped off Air Force One on the start of his nine-day, overseas tour that will also take him to Israel and Europe. He shook the hand of his wife, Melania Trump, who did not wear head covering in a symbol to recognize women’s rights.
Worth noting, the President had criticized the former first lady, Michelle Obama, who also did cover her head during one trip (the other she did). The U.S.-Saudi relationship was at an all-time low under the Obama presidency, which the Saudis believed favored Iran, their Sunni enemy across the Gulf. The royal family has waited nearly a decade to roll out the red carpet for a U.S. leader like the embattled one now.
And the 81-year-old King Salman did just that.
He greeted the President at the airport and two leaders exchanged pleasantries. President Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there as jets flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail. Billboards plastered with images of President Trump and King Salman dotted the highways of Riyadh, covered with the motto “Together we prevail.”
The luxury hotel were the President will stay was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, alternating with an image of the his face.
The visit isn’t only meant to promote military cooperation but also economic cooperation to diversity the Kingdom’s economy beyond its vast oil resources. U.S. technology and engineering conglomerate General Electric GE said it signed $15 billion in deals. Amin Nasser, CEO of national oil giant Saudi Aramco, said they will sign $50 billion of deals with U.S. companies on Saturday outside the scope of oil exports.
President Trump will deliver a speech in Riyadh on Sunday aimed at rallying Muslim allies and moderate governments in the fight against Islamist militants. White House aides view the address as a counter to Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim world, which Trump criticized and has come to be known as his “apology tour” in the region. He will also attend a summit of Gulf leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.
After spending two days in Riyadh to attend meetings, the President will travel to Israel, meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, then meet with allies at a NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.