President Donald Trump kicks off his first overseas venture by visiting longtime U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and a deeply conservative regional power.
It is a trip made all the more significant because no other president has chosen the country as their first destination as Commander in Chief. In the just over two days the president will spend in Riyadh, he will attend a royal banquet, inaugurate a counterterrorism center, take part in a Twitter forum and participate in three major meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders from around the globe, including an international event organized by the Saudis around his visit entitled the “Arab Islamic American Summit.”
The highlight of the Saudi leg of Trump’s trip is a highly anticipated speech to the Muslim world that national security adviser H.R. McMaster said is “intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”
The royal fanfare awaiting Trump stands in stark contrast to the greeting found by President Barack Obama in Riyadh last year after a term marked by worsening U.S.-Saudi relations.
The reception also underscores the stakes as the Trump administration seeks to improve relations with an oil-rich nation that is seen as an ally in the fight against terrorism and could play a role in helping craft a peace accord between Israel and Palestine.