Donald Trump starts first foreign tour with Saudi Arabia arms deal

Trump, who has expressed a desire for friendlier relations with Moscow, drew a storm of criticism this week when it emerged that he had shared sensitive national security information with Russia’s foreign minister during a meeting last week in the White House.

After two days of meetings in Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump was scheduled to travel to Israel, meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and join the world’s major industrial nations at a Group of Seven gathering in Sicily.

But with Trump’s hawkish political profile, and the first lady’s insider position in the world of fashion, buzz around what the president’s wife would wear and whether that would include a headscarf was at a high in the hours before Air Force One touched down in Riyadh.

It was a warmer welcome than had been granted to Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who was seen in the Arab kingdom as soft on Iran and hesitant on Syria.

A military brass band played, cannons boomed and seven Saudi jets flew over in V-formation, trailing red, white and blue smoke. “Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead”, Trump tweeted shortly after his arrival.

White House officials hope the trip, complete with images of the accompanying pomp and pageantry of a president overseas, will help Trump recalibrate after one of the most hard stretches of his young presidency. The White House badly bungled the president’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian Federation. This week, the Justice Department relented to pressure from Democrats and named former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the probe.

The tweet being displayed was Trump’s first tweet sent during his trip to Saudi Arabia.

While Air Force One was in the air, news organizations reported a string of damaging revelations: The New York Times reported Trump told Russian diplomats that Comey was a “nut job”, and that his firing would ease the pressure on the Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that an unidentified senior Trump adviser was being considered a “person of interest” in the law enforcement investigation. A date of this open hearing would be scheduled after the Memorial Day, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday. The Saudis deeply distrusted Obama’s overtures to Iran and were frustrated by his restrained approach to the Syrian civil war. The king did not greet Obama at the airport during his final visit to the nation a year ago. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Moscow, emblazoned with the motto “Together we prevail”. Trump’s luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.

Trump is to deliver a speech in Riyadh on Sunday aimed at rallying Muslims in the fight against Islamist militants.

When she emerged at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport the next morning, the first lady’s attire was more conservative – black patent stilettos and a black long-sleeved, wide-leg jumpsuit with a narrow slit down the neckline, cinched at the waist with a wide gold belt. Trump had criticized former-lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a 2015 visit to the kingdom.