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King Salman (C) receives Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20.
King Salman (C) receives Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20.

Trump Lands in Riyadh for First Foreign Trip

With delicate diplomatic meetings and including three summits, Trump faces a challenge of advancing his “America First” agenda without alienating key allies during his first trip abroad

Trump Lands in Riyadh for First Foreign Trip

Dogged by controversy at home, US President Donald Trump opened a nine-day foreign trip on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, looking to shift attention from a spiraling political firestorm over his firing of former FBI director, James Comey, last week.

With delicate diplomatic meetings facing him, including three summits, Trump faces a challenge of advancing his “America First” agenda without alienating key allies during his first trip abroad, AFP reported.

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 bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

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 and European leaders.

After a royal banquet, Trump and the king were to have private talks and participate in a signing ceremony for a number of US-Saudi agreements, including a $100 billion deal for Saudi Arabia to buy American arms.

National oil giant Saudi Aramco expected to sign $50 billion of deals with US companies on Saturday, part of a drive to diversify the kingdom’s economy beyond oil exports, Aramco’s chief executive, Amin Nasser, said.

The 70-year-old president’s travel to Saudi Arabia, Italy and Belgium will be Trump’s longest time away from the White House since he took office four months ago.

  Storm After FBI’s Comey

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 New York Times reported Trump had called Comey a “nut job” in a private meeting last week in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak last year were a factor in triggering a federal investigation and he was fired in February.

The White House did not deny the report, but said the “the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations”.

The exchange supports claims that Trump sacked Comey over the bureau’s probe into possible collusion between the real-estate mogul’s campaign and Moscow.

Comey, however, has agreed to publicly testify about Russian interference in the US elections, as fresh allegations increased pressure on the American leader.

He will testify in an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee at some point after the Memorial Day holiday May 29, though a date has not yet been set.

The ex-FBI chief has not spoken publicly since his surprise firing last week.

“I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” panel chairman, Richard Burr, said in a statement.

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