RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - President Donald Trump opens his first trip abroad since taking office, touching down in Saudi Arabia after an overnight flight from Washington.
Trump waved as he stood atop stairs outside Air Force One after it landed at Riyadh’s airport. He was joined by First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump was greeted by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. They exchanged a handshake and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there.
Several jets also flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.
Trump and King Salman met briefly for a coffee ceremony after the president’s arrival. They spoke through an interpreter inside the airport terminal.
Trump and his motorcade then made their way to his hotel for a few hours of downtime before beginning the day’s meetings.
The nation offered Trump an elaborate welcome. Billboards featuring the image of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump’s luxury hotel in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.
The first lady wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia
Trump’s visit is aimed at building stronger partnerships to combat terrorism in the region. He’s also hoping to move past the controversies engulfing his administration.
Trump flew to Riyadh overnight on Air Force One. He’s the only American president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop overseas as president. The scheduling choice is designed in part to show respect to the region after months of harsh anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric.
Trump will also travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and attend the NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 meeting in Sicily.
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.