- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 20, 2017

President Trump did not bow to Saudi King Salman but later grasped a saber and joined in a traditional sword dance, as his first trip abroad was hailed as a “turning point” in the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Despite criticism that his campaign rhetoric had alienated America’s Muslim allies, Mr. Trump received a hero’s welcome in Saudi Arabia at the start of a eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.

He was greeted on the tarmac by King Salman, an honor that was denied President Obama.

Mr. Trump also greeted the king with a hand shake rather than the deep bow bestowed by Mr. Obama when he visited Saudi Arabia in 2009.

“It’s the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world,” Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, told reporters in Riyadh after bilateral talks between the two countries aimed at building a more robust strategic relationship.

Prodding the Saudis and other Muslim countries to play a larger role in combating radical Islam and the threat of Iran is a top priority on Mr. Trump’s first trip abroad as commander in chief.

“Our relationship will evolve into an even more strategic partnership,” said Mr. Jubeir. “It will deal with ways to cooperate in terms of violent extremism, financing of terrorism, terrorism, increasing defense capabilities, working on a defense architecture for the region, initially between our two countries and then looking at how other countries can join.”

He said that he could not overstate the importance of Mr. Trump’s visit.

He credited the president with trying “to bring together the three major monotheistic religions in the world into a partnership so that we move from any discussion of a conflict of civilization and move towards a discussion of a partnership of civilization.”

On the first day of the trip, Mr. Trump and King Salman inked a series of agreements, including a nearly $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and deals for economic investments in both countries. He later attended a royal banquet, where he joined the Saudi sword dance, and toured the National Museum.

The president will be meeting Sunday with a group of 50 leaders from Muslim countries to press for more cooperation in combating radical Islam and the threat of Iran.

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