After facing a rough 2 weeks in the U.S. dominated with negative headlines over his dealings with an FBI director and his role divulging classified information to Russia’s foreign minister from the Oval Office, U.S. President Trump is visiting Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, to meet with Arab leaders during a 7 day world trip that also includes trips to Israel, Brussels, and Italy.
Saudi leaders hope that new American leadership will reset relations between the two countries and relieve some of the built up tension that developed with former U.S. President Barack Obama over his handling of Syria and neighboring rival Iran after a nuclear agreement was worked out between the U.S. and Tehran in 2015 that relieved many sanctions and downgraded Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Iranians have just reelected a reform minded president after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won his reelection on Friday.
Iran continues to support President Assad in Syria whose Damascus government stands accused of carrying out chemical weapons attacks during Syria’s 6 year war that has displaced millions of Syrians across the region and led to the rise of ISIS in the region.
Following President Trump’s election win in January, he unsuccessfully moved to impose a travel ban with 7 Muslim countries that was blocked in U.S. courts after encountering some legal pushback, although he continues to talk tough about combating terrorism and defeating ISIS.
On April 7th President Trump ordered an air strike against Syrian government airplanes at Syria’s 2nd largest airbase, the Shayrat Airbase, following a deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians in the Idlib Province of Syria in April that killed 87 and injured many others.
More recently, the U.S. has launched air attacks against pro-Assad ground forces in Syria after they violated a de-conflict zone which resulted in some criticism from Damascus and Moscow.
U.S- Saudi Weapons Deal
The U.S. State Department reported on Saturday that President Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended a signing ceremony for nearly $110 billion in defense weapons that Saudi Arabia purchased aimed at bolstering the Kingdom’s security and counterterrorism operations across the region.
“This package demonstrates the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, potentially supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States” a State Department spokesperson said in a released statement.
The military package also includes equipping the Saudi Kingdom with Patriot and THAAD air systems that will help Saudi Arabia to protect itself and the region from missile or other airborne attacks.
Upcoming Calendar: Meeting With Arab Leaders, Israeli President Netanyahu, Pope, EU & NATO Leaders, G7
On Sunday U.S. President Trump will meet with Gulf coalition leaders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. President Trump is expected to give a speech about fighting radicalism across the region.
On Monday President Trump will travel to Israel and meet with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday President Trump meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
On Wednesday there will be a meeting between President Trump and the Pope in the Vatican followed by a trip to Brussels, Belgium where he is expected to meet with EU and NATO leaders for 2 days.
On Friday President Trump will fly south to Sicily, Italy for the start of the G7 meeting that will focus on the global economy, foreign policy, security, and the environment.
The G7 meeting lasts through Saturday.
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