Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump visit draws country singer Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia


Trump's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia will be his first overseas trip since taking office on January 20. The President will have lunch with leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries- including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes- during a summit.

Although the Trump administration waived those sanctions again this week, as required by Congress to keep the nuclear accord intact, it added a new raft of penalties aimed at Tehran's ballistic missile program, which is not covered under the deal.

The combination of tough talk on Shiite Iran, a lower-key focus on human rights, and the likely announcement of new arms deals should in theory earn the USA leader a warm welcome. It's because this week was also, by any standard, an extraordinary one for US politics in general. The cost could reach a staggering $100 billion.

For as long as Trump is consumed by his domestic crisis, it is unlikely a final deal between the Palestinians and Israel will remain anything more than a lofty ambition.

Saudi Arabia is said to have been chosen as the first stop because it's the birthplace of Islam and the custodian of the two Holy Mosques. Trump has previously said that the United Kingdom was doing the right thing by leaving the European Union and that other countries would follow. It is at this event where Trump is scheduled to make his address. If Saudi reformers gain traction, it could be a "hinge" event for the region.

But several of Trump's top advisers want to tilt USA policy in the Arab world back toward Sunni power, led by the Saudis, as a counterweight to Shiite Iran. Also on the agenda: the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' meeting and dinner, with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

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The Tories say, for example, that they plan to spend a minimum of £8bn on the NHS. And they look to their government for help and support.


Many of these ideas were discussed and reported on back in March when Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the White House.

But as the Republican takes his first steps as head of state on the world stage, his every word, action and tweet will be under the microscope.

Trump's meeting with Pope Francis - two men at odds on everything from climate change to refugee policy - remains highly unpredictable, although the pontiff says he will give America's bullish leader an open-minded hearing.

"Today, Israel and the Sunni Arab states have a greater confluence of interests than at any time since Israel's creation", he said.

Trump's visit "sends a clear message that the USA is standing with its close allies in the region and that they're not abandoning them", a senior Saudi official told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

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In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council on Monday agreed to take further significant measures, including sanctions. Andersen Air Force Base, which is located 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) away from North Korea, according to Schilling.


"We will work with our allies, particularly the United States, to see that Iran is made to act like a normal country", Jubeir said.

Trump has provided two very distinct perspectives when it comes to foreign policy: One who sees Americans are being taken "advantage of", wants to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and views North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as obsolete. We see their heavy involvement in Iraq. We see them supporting terrorism. We see them trying to undermine countries throughout the region.

Third, it should be remembered that many on the political right in Israel made the mistake of taking Trump's campaign rhetoric at face value.

The Saudi and the American sides are expected to sign a host of political and economic agreements.

Marwan Kabalan, an analyst at the Doha Institute's Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, told Al Jazeera the United States and Saudi Arabia will discuss a strategic plan aimed at countering extremism as an ideological battle. They hope he will increase support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against rebels aligned with Iran.

"If he doesn't, the Saudis will have gotten the better deal", McCants said. "But they are also funding a version of Islam that ends up becoming the building blocks for the extremist groups that we're fighting".

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Iran's election on Friday is its own concern, Saudi Arabia said ahead of an "unprecedented" summit between US President Donald Trump and dozens of Muslim nations excluding Iran.

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