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Saudi Arabia, ignoring Trump’s slights, will give him a royal welcome

When President Trump heads to Saudi Arabia on Friday for his first trip overseas since taking office, it will be for much more than a run-of-the-mill state visit.

The Saudis have internationalized the event, organizing a sprawling “Arab Islamic American Summit” with leaders from dozens of Muslim countries, as well as talks with the king, the inauguration of a counterterrorism center, forums for business executives and young people, and a country music concert.

Saudi Arabia, home to some of Islam’s holiest sites, will be pulling out all the stops for a man who has declared “Islam hates us” and said the United States was “losing a tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.

But Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies were so angry over President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies that they appeared prepared to dismiss Mr. Trump’s remarks as campaign rhetoric, and to see in him a possibility of resetting relations.

The grandiose reception seeks to convince Mr. Trump that his priorities are theirs, too, and that they are indispensable partners in fighting terrorism, in confronting Iran, in bolstering American businesses and perhaps even in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“This administration has vision that matches the view of the kingdom with regards to the role of America in the world, with regards to getting rid of terrorism, with regards to confronting Iran, with regards to rebuilding relations with traditional allies, with regards to trade and investment,” Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, told reporters on Thursday.

The number of events scheduled throughout the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday and Sunday is staggering, as the Saudis seek to project their country as a dynamic place, a leader in the Arab and Islamic worlds and a close ally of the United States.

The Stars and Stripes are flying in Riyadh’s streets, intermixed with Saudi flags.

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BCNN1 • May 19, 2017


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