Friday, 06 December, 2019

Melania Trump skips headscarf as she arrives in Saudi Arabia

Kelley Robertson | 21 May, 2017, 01:46

U.S. president Donald Trump left for Saudi Arabia on Friday on the first leg of a trip that the White House hopes will shift attention away from the political firestorm triggered by his firing last week of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Among the deals, executives said, were a plan by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc for a joint venture with Aramco to manage business projects in the kingdom, and a plan by McDermott International to transfer some of its ship fabrication facilities from Dubai to a new shipbuilding complex which Aramco will build within Saudi Arabia. Trump said on Twitter hours before he left on his first foreign trip since taking office in January.

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. He declared Trump was being honoured for "his quest to enhance security and stability in the region and around the world". Large billboards of Trump and King Salman lined the highway from the airport, CNN reported.

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The first lady wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt but did not cover her head, consistent with custom for female foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia.

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

Trump's visit is aimed at building stronger partnerships to combat terrorism in the region.

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Whereas President Trump and Melania were photographed deplaning Air Force One together, as the Trumps walked down the stairs as a couple, other photos show Melania walking far behind Trump on the red carpet, as seen below. The leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was "a great honor" to be there. Trump's luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president's face.

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.

The trip, which also includes stops in Israel, Italy and Belgium next week, has been billed by the administration as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions while giving Trump time to meet with Arab, Israeli and European leaders. After two days of meetings in Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and meet with allies at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Trump generated controversy as a presidential candidate with a call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, which he called a national security plan to prevent militant attacks. The first lady is joining the president for the entire trip.

On Sunday, he'll deliver a speech on Islam and hold meetings with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, who are converging on Riyadh for a regional summit focused largely on combating the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

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