President Trump’s first foreign trip began on Saturday with pomp, pageantry and $ 110 billion arms deal.
As controversies continued to swirl around the White House at home, Trump made the most of his initial day in Saudi Arabia by inking an agreement that commits the Middle Eastern kingdom to buying military equipment from U.S. and to hiring American companies to build such equipment in Saudi Arabia.
The Trump administration has been working to finalize the deal over the past several months.
The arms deal includes military sales to Saudi Arabia of $ 110 billion immediately and $ 350 billion total over the next decade.
The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology.
At the same time, private equity firm Blackstone and Saudi’s largest sovereign wealth fund announced a $ 40 billion investment in U.S. infrastructure projects.
Private sector deals were announced as well, including Lockheed Martin signing a $ 6 billion letter of intent to assemble 150 Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, and General Electric announcing a series of projects it valued at $ 15 billion.
Trump said the day, spent bouncing between meetings and ceremonies in Riyadh, had been “tremendous.”
The President touted the deals, saying they would lead to “tremendous investments” in the United States.
He says the deals will also create “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said the alliance and the military deal will help “drain the swamp” of extremism.
“If we can change the conversation in the Islamic world from enmity toward the U.S. to partnership with the U.S. and if we can change the conversation in the U.S. and in the West from enmity towards the Islamic world to one of partnership … we will have drained the swamp from which extremism and terrorism emanates,” he said at a joint press conference alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Earlier, Trump met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia briefly for a coffee ceremony.
The 81-year-old monarch presented Trump with a gilded necklace and medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Video of the ceremony shows Trump, who once admonished former President Obama for bowing to a Saudi royal, appearing to curtsy after the medallion is placed around his neck.
Trump is viewed as a positive change in the kingdom in the wake of his predecessor, who was disliked in Saudi Arabia for brokering the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh.
First Lady Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head, a custom that her husband once criticized her predecessor for not following.
The luxury hotel where the President was staying, which is not a Trump-owned property, was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, occasionally, an image of the President’s face.
The warm welcome stood in stark contrast to the barrage of bad news that enveloped Washington as Trump took off on his nine-day trip on Friday.
An ever-widening federal probe into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and his firing of FBI director James Comey hung over the President’s head.
Trump is set to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.