Trump visit draws country singer Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Saudi Arabi
Trump visit draws country singer Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia
Author

19 May, 2017

In a break with tradition, the President will head to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and then Belgium and Italy for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 meetings on his first trip overseas.

Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday, marking his first trip overseas since taking office, for the "Arab Islamic American Summit" with leaders from multiple Muslim countries to discuss relations in the post-Obama era. Not only that, the phone conversation also stressed the long-term friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries and highlighted the necessity to boost mutual efforts to fight terrorism and formulate the bases of peace to the region's crises. "Saudi Arabia agrees with the U.S. administration's view in relation to the role of the United States in the world and in relation to uprooting terrorism", he added, referring to the hardline Islamic State group and al Qaeda.

A series of deadly shootings and bombings against foreigners and Saudi security forces that began in 2003 turned Riyadh into a loyal and robust partner in the fight against Al-Qaeda, with Mohammed bin Nayef, now the kingdom's crown prince, well-regarded by USA officials for his role overseeing a crackdown on the militants.

This is said against the backdrop of the President's proposed travel bans against people from several Muslim-majority countries, which are now still mired in the courts.

With turmoil enveloping his administration at home, President Donald Trump heads overseas on Friday for a trip the White House hopes will shift focus away from domestic controversies and on to his foreign policy agenda.

Saudi Arabia has welcomed Trump's hard rhetoric on Iran, which contrasts with the outreach that culminated in the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Tehran.

He also said that Saudi Arabia wants to send a message to the West that the Muslim countries are "not enemies", adding that the Riyadh comes second after the United States in the fight against IS militant group.

The United States is close to completing a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia totaling more than $100 billion, a senior White House official told Reuters earlier this month.

Although he kept a gruelling schedule as a presidential candidate, Trump is fond of being home at night, often flying back to NY after campaign events to sleep in his own bed.

Trump has provided two very distinct perspectives when it comes to foreign policy: One who sees Americans are being taken "advantage of", wants to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and views North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as obsolete.

On May 21, President Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center in Riyadh.

The leaders of Syria and Iran were not invited to the summit. In the region, Saudi Arabia owns the keys to stability. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were from Saudi Arabia.

"This administration is very clear, not just with Saudi Arabia but also with Turkey and other traditional allies, that the idea is to double down on existing relationships and to put allies first", said Mohammed Khalid Alyahya, a Saudi political analyst and nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a policy research organization.

This alliance in turn will create a vital foundation of investment for the children and generations to come through the provision of economic opportunities both internally and externally.

The summit will address three critical areas of concern: US-Saudi relations, US-GCC relations and Islamic-American relations.

He will then meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

The summit is part of preparations for a new U.S. strategy mobilising the Muslim world against the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State group, as well as against Iran-backed militias such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, said Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser to the Gulf Research Centre.


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