Under political fire at home, U.S. President Donald Trump sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday on his first foreign trip.
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.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir called the results of Trump’s meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz “the beginning of a turning point” between the United States, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.
Both he and Tillerson made clear the arms deal was aimed at countering Iran on a day that Hassan Rouhani was re-elected as Iran’s president.
Tillerson said Rouhani should use his second term to end Iran’s ballistic missile testing and stop promoting extremism in a volatile region.
He said he had no plans to talk to his Iranian counterpart but that he in all likelihood he would do so “at the right time.”
Al-Jubeir said Trump and King Salman agreed that action had to be taken to ensure Iran did not continue “aggressive policies in the region.”
Trump’s 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 him time to meet with Arab, Israeli and European leaders.