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Sunday 24 September 2017

Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia for first trip abroad as president

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump arrive at the King Khalid International Airport (AP)
President Donald Trump and Melania Trump arrive at the King Khalid International Airport (AP)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One prior to his departure on his first overseas trip (AP)

President Donald Trump has touched down in Saudi Arabia as he begins his first trip abroad since taking office.

The visit is aimed at building stronger partnerships to combat terrorism in the region. He is also hoping to move past the controversies engulfing his administration.

Mr Trump flew to Riyadh overnight on Air Force One to become the only American president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop overseas.

The president and First Lady Melania Trump waved as they stood at the top of stairs that had been rolled to the side of the official presidential aircraft after it landed. Mr Trump was greeted by King Salman, they exchanged a handshake and Mr Trump said it was "a great honour" to be there.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told reporters on the plane that Mr Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

The scheduling choice is designed in part to show respect to the region after months of harsh anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric.

He will also travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican and attend the Nato summit in Brussels and the G7 meeting in Sicily.

Mr Trump will addresses the leaders of Arab and Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

According to a draft of a speech obtained by AP, he will say: "This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations.

"This is a battle between those who seek to obliterate human life and those who seek to protect it," the text reads. "This is a battle between good and evil."

The speech envisions new partnerships with America's traditional allies in the Middle East. It noticeably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights - topics Arab leaders often view as US moralising - in favour of the more limited goals of peace and stability.

The White House said this is not a final draft and it could change leading up to Sunday's speech.

Press Association

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