The arms deal, plus other investments that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said could total up to $350 billion, was the central achievement of Trump’s first day in Riyadh, first stop on a nine-day journey through the Middle East and Europe.
Speaking to journalists after a ceremony to exchange agreements, Trump said it was a “tremendous day” and spoke of “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs. So I would like to thank all of the people of Saudi Arabia.”
King Salman gave Trump a remarkably warm greeting, meeting him at the steps of Air Force One on arrival, shaking the hand of Trump’s wife, Melania, riding with Trump in his limousine and spending most of the day with him.
Salman gave a more favorable welcome to Trump than he had granted last year to Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who was seen in the Arab kingdom as soft on Iran and hesitant on Syria.
Trump and King Salman seemed at ease with each other, chatting through an interpreter. At the royal al-Yamama palace, the king draped around Trump’s neck the King Abdulaziz medal, the country’s top civilian honor.
At the end of the day, Tillerson and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, holding swords, were seen participating in a ceremonial dance at Marraba Palace with a Saudi group.
As Trump arrived for dinner with the king, a spectacle awaited him: Men dressed in long white turbans and carrying swords swayed and chanted in unison to beating drums in a courtyard. Trump, clearly enjoying himself, smiled and swayed, even seeming to dance a little at the center of the group.