President Donald Trump arrived Saturday in Saudi Arabia, his first stop outside the U.S. since taking office and the start of an ambitious nine-day trip through the Middle East and Europe that is aimed at advancing his foreign policy agenda and securing billions of dollars in deals for American companies.
Stepping off Air Force One in sweltering heat with his wife, Melania, Trump and his entourage received a red-carpet welcome from Saudi King Salman.
The trip has been billed by the White House 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.
But uproar in Washington threatened to cast a long shadow over the trip. His firing of Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign’s ties to Russia last year has triggered a stream of bad headlines.
The president and first lady then walked into the terminal where a coffee reception with King Salman was held. The pair spoke through an interpreter inside the terminal, according to The Associated Press.
Trump and his motorcade then headed to his hotel for a few hours of downtime before starting the day’s meetings.
The trip marks the first time a U.S. president has made Saudi Arabia, a Muslim-majority country, his first stop. Typically, Canada has been the first foreign country a president visits.
On Sunday, Trump will deliver a speech at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit on U.S. relations with the Muslim world and the global effort to confront religious extremism and promote moderation. He will help inaugurate a “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.”