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ABC News(NEW YORK) — President Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the initial day of his first foreign trip since taking office.

“That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States,” Trump said. “Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said.

The agreement commits Saudi Arabia to buying military equipment from the U.S. and to hiring American companies to build such equipment in Saudi Arabia, according to Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser. The deal includes tanks and helicopters for border security, ships for coastal security, intelligence-gathering aircraft, a missile-defense radar system and cybersecurity tools, according to the State Department.

In a joint press appearance on Saturday with the Saudi foreign minister, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised the pact as a “historic moment in U.S.-Saudi relations.” He also expressed an openness to talks with Iran.

“I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation,” he said. “At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although in all likelihood we will talk at the right time.”

Tillerson said the pact sends a “very strong message to our common enemies” on trying to disrupt “violent extremist messaging” and “financing of terrorism.” He also said the deal “lowers the cost to the American people of providing security in this region.”

The Trump administration has been working to finalize the deal over the past several months. White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the deal “huge news for U.S. companies and American workers who will benefit” in a tweet on Saturday morning.

Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner personally called the president of Lockheed Martin, a major supplier of U.S. military equipment, in order to negotiate a lower price for the radar system, according to the New York Times.

“This package of defense equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats. Additionally, it bolsters the Kingdom’s ability to provide for its own security and continue contributing to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on U.S. military forces,” the State Department said in a statement.

A White House official added that in addition to demonstrating the U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia “and our Gulf partners,” it also expands “opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defense industrial base.”

Lockheed Martin President Marillyn Hewson praised the deal as one that will bolster the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and “strengthen the cause of peace in the region.”

“At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Hewson said in a statement. “We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the U.S. and in the Kingdom.”

The arms deal includes military sales to Saudi Arabia of $110 billion immediately and $350 billion total over the next decade, according to a White House official. The two countries also agreed to a joint vision statement, private-sector agreements and defense cooperation agreements.

Trump’s first overseas trip since the election also includes planned stops at the Vatican and Israel.

The trip comes as controversy swirls in the U.S. around the investigation into potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government, which could distract from the president’s diplomatic mission.

In response to a question about reports that a current White House official is caught up in the investigation, Tillerson said “I do not have any information or knowledge regarding the person of interest.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Pippa Middleton tied the knot Saturday with her nephew, Prince George, and niece, Princess Charlotte, by her side.

George, who turns 4 in July, served as a pageboy at Middleton’s wedding to financier James Matthews, while Charlotte, 2, served as a bridesmaid.

The children’s mother, Princess Kate, was seen guiding the bridal party out of a car and into St. Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berkshire. Kate was also seen at points reminding the young children to be quiet.

George and Charlotte joined the other page boys and bridesmaids in wearing custom-made outfits designed by Pepa & Co. Charlotte and her three fellow bridesmaids wore dresses accented by a sash and flower crowns atop their heads.

George and his three fellow page boys wore gold, knee-length trousers and collared shirts.

George and Charlotte’s nanny, Maria Turrion Borrallo, was also photographed at the church with the children.

Middleton, 33, and Matthews, 41, tied the knot at St. Mark’s, located just six miles from Bucklebury, where Middleton was raised. Middleton donned a white gown designed by Giles Deacon and a bespoke veil designed by milliner Stephen Jones that featured tulle and embroidered pearls.

While the American wedding tradition is to include bridesmaids closer in age to the bride, the British tradition varies.

Queen Elizabeth selected women close to her own age as bridesmaids in her 1947 wedding. Princess Diana used school-age girls as bridesmaids, rather than flower girls, at her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles and did not have a maid of honor.

Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, also selected young attendants as bridesmaids at her 1960 wedding as did the queen’s daughter-in-law, Sophie Wessex, in 1999. Conversely, Autumn Phillips, the bride of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, Peter Philips, featured bridesmaids close to her age at her 2008 wedding. Kate’s 2011 wedding to William included young bridesmaids led by Middleton as maid of honor.

Middleton led the bridal party down the aisle at Westminster Abbey holding the hands of the two youngest bridesmaids, Lady Grace van Cutsem and Lady Eliza Lopes, both then 3.

Kate’s four young bridesmaids each wore ballerina-length dresses using the same fabric as Kate’s wedding gown, adorned with a pale gold sash made of wild silk.

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Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) — Pippa Middleton’s wedding was attended by high-profile guests including her older sister, Princess Kate.

Middleton, 33, donned a white gown designed by Giles Deacon at her wedding to James Matthews, a 41-year-old financier, at St. Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berkshire.

Middleton’s bespoke veil was designed by milliner Stephen Jones and featured tulle and embroidered pearls. The bride wore a tiara handmade by Robinson Pelham and donned ivory satin Manolo Blahnik pumps.

She carried a bouquet of peony, sweet pea, astilbe, freesia, waxflower, green bell and alchemilla mollis.

Kate, 35, dressed in pink, was photographed arranging the train of Middleton’s gown as she entered the church.

Middleton’s nephew, Prince George, 3, and niece, Princess Charlotte, 2, joined the wedding celebration as a page boy and bridesmaid, respectively. George and Charlotte were part of a group of eight in the bridal party, all wearing custom-made outfits designed by Pepa & Co.

Other members of the royal family in attendance included Middleton’s brother-in-law, Prince William, and his brother, Prince Harry, and their cousin, Princess Eugenie.

Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, her brother, James Middleton, and Matthews’ family, including his parents, David and Jane Matthews, and his reality TV star brother, Spencer Matthews, were also in attendance.

St. Mark’s Church is located just six miles from Bucklebury, where Middleton was raised. The church is located on the private Englefield estate, the home of Richard Benyon, one of Britain’s wealthiest members of Parliament with an estimated net worth of $150 million.

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American Airlines(HONOLULU) — A man who had been arrested at LAX airport early Friday morning was later subdued after causing a “disturbance” that alarmed flight attendants and an off-duty officer on an American Airlines flight to Honolulu.

American Airlines said in a statement that law enforcement met the plane upon landing in Honolulu following a “disturbance” on the flight. The plane was escorted by two F-22 fighter jets for the duration of the flight following the disturbance, U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.

Special Agents of the FBI Honolulu Field Office and local police responded ahead of the flight’s arrival and took a passenger into custody. The Department of Homeland Security is continuing to monitor all flights “out of an abundance of caution,” it said.

About halfway through the flight, the passenger, identified as 25-year-old Anil Uskanil, was headed towards the front of the plane. He had a blanket over his head and was mumbling, witnesses said.

It’s unclear how far towards the front of the plane he made it. Some eyewitnesses told ABC News that he tried to push his way through first class to the bathrooms, but was blocked by the beverage cart and a passenger.

Earlier on Friday, a source at the TSA told ABC News that the passenger was waiting for the bathroom near the cockpit when a flight attendant asked him to sit down. He had a laptop with him and appeared to try the cockpit door before he was subdued, the source said. American Airlines has stated that he was “moving towards the cockpit.” After the disturbance, Uskanil was escorted back to his seat, where he was restrained with duct tape, according to witnesses. At no time during the incident was there any violence or significant struggle, witnesses said.

LAX Police told ABC News that at 2:45 a.m. they received a radio call of a passenger moving through a Terminal 5 security door, which led to the airfield ramp. Uskanil, a ticketed passenger on an American Airlines flight who had passed through TSA security, was detained after being spotted. Police determined he had been drinking, but did not meet criteria for public drunkenness. Uskanil was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing, cited, given a pending court date, then released from custody.

American Airlines says Uskanil then went back thru a TSA checkpoint in Terminal 4 where his flight to Honolulu was leaving from and boarded the flight. The airline also says that he had bought his ticket for the Honolulu flight shortly after midnight at the airport ticket counter.

Law enforcement is now responding to analyze a suspicious item associated with Uskanil, a source told ABC News.

Flight 31 from Los Angeles landed safely at 11:35 a.m. local time, according to American Airlines. All passengers are off the plane and safe, and operations at the airport have resumed as normal.

A total of 181 passengers and six crew members were on board, according to the airline.

The incident is under investigation. Halting of all ground movements on the airfield as the flight came in caused a 30-minute backlog, the Department of Transportation said in a statement. The DOT expected the backlog to be resolved by the end of peak travel in the afternoon.

Further details were not immediately available.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hobbyists who buy new drones no longer have to register the aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration, according to an appeals court decision.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit cited a law passed by Congress in 2012 that states the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.”

In 2015, the FAA issued the Registration Rule, requiring all drone owners to register their model aircrafts, defined by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act as “an unmanned aircraft…flown for hobby or recreational purposes.”

The court ruled in favor of John Taylor, a model aircraft hobbyist from the Washington, D.C.-area, who filed petitions challenging the FAA’s rule.

“Aviation safety is obviously an important goal, and the Registration Rule may well help further that goal to some degree,” according to the decision by the three-judge panel, adding that Congress is “always free to repeal or amend its 2012 prohibition on FAA rules regarding model aircraft.”

In a statement, the FAA said it was “carefully reviewing” the decision.

“The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats,” the statement said. “We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.”

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American Airlines(HONOLULU) — A man was subdued after he allegedly tried to breach the cockpit of an American Airlines flight to Honolulu, a source familiar with the situation told ABC News.

American Airlines said in a statement that law enforcement met the plane upon landing in Honolulu following a “disturbance” on the flight. The plane was escorted by two F-22 fighter jets for the duration of the flight following the disturbance, U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.

A source at the TSA told ABC News that the man was waiting for the bathroom near the cockpit when a flight attendant asked him to sit down. He had a laptop with him and appeared to try the cockpit door before he was subdued, the source said.

The man has been detained, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. The DHS is continuing to monitor all flights “out of an abundance of caution,” it said.

DHS Statement: pic.twitter.com/lrZAYL4D6h

— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) May 19, 2017

Law enforcement is now responding to analyze a suspicious item associated with the man, a source told ABC News.

Flight 31 from Los Angeles landed safely at 11:35 a.m. local time, according to American Airlines. All passengers are off the plane and safe, and operations at the airport have resumed as normal.

A total of 181 passengers and six crew members were on board, according to the airline.

The incident is under investigation.

Further details were not immediately available.

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Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has nominated Callista Gingrich to be the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Gingrich is the third wife of Trump campaign consultant and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The president made the announcement Friday in a release as he departed for his first foreign trip in office. A visit to Rome is expected where he is set to meet with Pope Francis on May 24.

Newt Gingrich has credited his wife, a lifelong Catholic, with his decision to convert to Catholicism in 2009. She is also a New York Times bestselling author, writing the children’s series “Ellis the Elephant” and co-authoring “Rediscovering God in America.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street had a second straight day of gains as investors shrugged off worries about political turmoil in Washington, D.C.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 141.82 (+0.69 percent) to finish at 20,804.84.

The Nasdaq gained 28.57 (+0.47 percent) to close at 6,083.70 while the S&P 500 finished at 2,381.73, up 16.01 (+0.68 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was about 2 percent higher with prices over $50 per barrel.

President Trump: Wednesday was the worst day of the year for stocks after reports President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Investors worried the focus was turning away from the administration’s pro-business agenda, but their concerns were eased after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to the investigation.

Winners and Losers: A weak earnings report from Foot Locker Retail, Inc. caused the footwear retailer to slump about 17 percent.

Shares of Deere & Company soared 7 percent after beating analysts’ earnings expectations and boosting revenue guidance for the year.

Vistra Energy Corp is reportedly in talks to acquire electric company Dynegy Inc. Shares of the power producers were up about 2 percent and 26 percent higher respectively.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump embarks on Friday on his first foreign trip, the timing and itinerary of which are notably different than his predecessors.

Trump’s mid-May departure is three months later than George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, whose first foreign trips were in February, shortly after their inaugurations.

Another stark difference is Trump’s first stop: Saudi Arabia. Bush first traveled to Mexico, Obama to Canada –- a decision typically seen as an honor reserved for America’s closest allies and neighbors.

Saudi Arabia has become a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS. Trump welcomed the country’s leader, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to the White House in March and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Saudi Arabia in April, laying the groundwork for perhaps a closer relationship with the new administration.

On this trip, Trump is expected to bring together leaders from the Muslim world and announce what the White House is calling for the creation of an “Arab-NATO” to fight terrorism and put pressure on Iran, one of Saudi Arabia’s most despised neighbors in the region.

Trump will also seek to increase investment ties between the two nations, including a $100 billion arms sale from the U.S.

But critics argue that the handshakes and warm smiles ignore Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record. It’s unclear if the White House will condemn the Kingdom’s censorship of free speech, indiscriminate incarceration of citizens with no due process, or the lack of basic freedoms for women and girls.

The State Department’s Human Rights Report released this year made no secret of Saudi Arabia’s numerous human rights abuses, saying, “The most important human rights problems reported included citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to choose their government; restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affected most aspects of women’s lives.”

The State Department report also mentioned the Saudi-led coalition to defeat the Houthi rebels in Yemen, whose airstrikes have “resulted in civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure on multiple occasions.”

But there was no mention of human rights in the readout from the White House detailing the discussion between Trump and the Deputy Crown Prince in March.

A State Department official told ABC News that the U.S. works closely with Saudi Arabia and has “routine, cooperative, and productive discussions with senior Saudi officials on a range of bilateral and regional issues.”

“We regularly raise human rights concerns with the government of Saudi Arabia as part of our ongoing dialogue,” this official said.

Whether Trump will express his concerns on this first foreign trip is to be seen. ABC News looks at some of the human rights abuses plaguing Saudi Arabia.

Free speech

Saudi authorities continue to repress dissidents and restrict free expression.

The country does not allow for the existence of political parties, trade unions, or independent human rights groups. One cannot worship any religion other than Islam in public. And public gatherings, even if they are peaceful, are prohibited.

“They [authorities] harassed, arrested and prosecuted critics, including writers and online commentators, political and women’s rights activists, members of the Shi’a minority, and human rights defenders, imprisoning some after courts sentenced them to prison terms on vague charges,” Amnesty International said in its report on the country.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), over a dozen prominent activists convicted on charges related to peaceful activities in 2016 are serving long prison sentences.

Furthermore, HRW reports that by mid-2016, Saudi Arabia had jailed almost every founder of the banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association. Two of those who have been jailed were given eight- and nine-year prison sentences for their “peaceful pro-reform advocacy,” HRW said.

Another case that gained international attention was the March imprisonment of journalist Alaa Brinji, who received five years in prison for comments he posted on Twitter that criticized religious authorities and voiced support for women’s rights and human rights activists.

While Saudi Arabia legalized civil society organizations in 2015, the law allows authorities to deny permits to or dissolve them on vague grounds. HRW reported in September that they were “unaware of any registration of an independent human rights group under the new law.”

Criminal justice system

Saudi Arabia arrests, imprisons, and executes citizens it accuses of violating the law, governed by Sharia. Hundreds have been detained for suspected participation in terrorism-related activities.

“Human rights defenders and those who expressed political dissent continued to be equated to ‘terrorists,’” Amnesty said.

Those detained are held for long periods of time, often without due process and cut off from the outside world, despite laws that say detainees should be referred to a court within six months of arrest.

“Authorities do not always inform suspects of the crime with which they are charged, or allow them access to supporting evidence, sometimes even after trial sessions have begun,” HRW said. “Authorities generally do not allow lawyers to assist suspects during interrogation and sometimes impede them from examining witnesses and presenting evidence at trial.”

Punishments frequently include public floggings and executions. Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said the country executed 144 people between January and mid-November of last year, mostly for murder and terrorism-related offenses. However, twenty-two of those convicted were for non-violent drug offenses.

HRW reports that most of the executions happened by beheading, sometimes in public.

Women’s rights

Women in Saudi Arabia live under a male guardianship system. A man, usually the woman’s husband, father, brother, or son, must give permission for her to obtain a passport, travel, marry, exit prison, access healthcare, and work. In some instances, male permission is needed to rent an apartment or file legal claims.

Women also have inferior status to men when it comes to gaining child custody, filing for divorce, and accessing higher education. They cannot drive.

HRW reported that as of July 2016, most public schools did not offer physical education classes for girls. Although, four women represented Saudi Arabia in the Rio Olympics in August, Saudi women are banned from attending national sporting events.

There are over 3,100 women serving as members of their local council across Saudi Arabia. However, in February, the government ordered the women to be segregated from the men – only able to participate in council meetings via video link, HRW said.

Even so, last month, the United Nations member states elected Saudi Arabia to serve on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is “dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women,” according to its website.

“Saudi Arabia’s election to the commission, which was supported by 47 states, including at least three European countries, is an affront to the mission of the commission itself and a rebuke to Saudi women,” wrote HRW’s Adam Coogle in April.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump on Friday afternoon will embark on his first overseas trip, a historic eight-day journey that includes visits to the holiest sites of three major religions, an unprecedented summit with Muslim leaders and a major meeting of NATO allies.

In any president’s first foreign trip, particular symbolic importance is attached to the first country visited, and in that regard Trump will put the spotlight on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is greeting the U.S. president with a highly choreographed red carpet welcome.

The visit, which includes three major summits and a weekend teeming with events, including a men-only Toby Keith concert, comes despite Trump during the 2016 election campaign having called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims,” his subsequent executive order travel ban as president on several Muslim-majority countries and his previous comments that Saudi Arabia should shoulder the burden for America’s security protection.

Despite possible areas of contention with Trump in the past, the Kingdom is looking forward to the dawn of “a new beginning,” according to Riyadh’s official website for the summit — a “highly anticipated event, the first of its kind in history.”

In Trump, there are hoping for an American president more closely aligned with their priorities, especially after years of perceived neglect under the Obama administration.

Here are four things to look for during Trump’s time in Saudi Arabia:


During his two days on the ground in the birthplace of Islam, Trump will take part in three key meetings.

The first is a U.S.-Saudi summit, where the two delegations will discuss the joint challenges they face like ISIS and Iran and their plans for continued cooperation on multiple fronts, including economic and military. It’s an important marker to “reinforce the historic partnership” between two countries, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, as they “open a new page.”

In particular, they will sign “several agreements that will further solidify U.S.-Saudi security and economic cooperation,” according to U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Among those is an arms deal package worth at least $100 billion, although some of the agreements were already negotiated under the Obama administration.

With an old and ailing King Salman on the throne, the Saudis are also likely to closely study Trump for how he treats the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, next in line for the thrown, and the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second in line but allegedly maneuvering to succeed his father, King Salman.

Experts say Trump has to be careful not to tip the scales, but he already seemed to once with an Oval Office meeting with the deputy crown prince in March. And sources tell ABC News that the young Saudi leader has already forged a connection with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, which could have even more weight for the Saudis’ dynastic power politics.

After that, the American delegation will meet with the other Gulf Arab countries of the region, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC. While the meeting will also touch on the threat of terrorism, it is clear these countries are eager to discuss Iran — and given their involvement in the war in Yemen, this may be the only real chance for movement there.

Yemen has been torn apart by civil war for over two years now, with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies propping up the internationally-recognized government locked in a stalemate against Houthi rebels allied with Iran. The fighting has left nearly 8,000 dead, 7 million internally displaced and 17 million facing a hunger crisis.

The conflict requires U.S. leadership, but Trump has so far leaned away and let the Saudi coalition pursue a military solution, according to Eric Pelofsky, the senior director for North Africa and Yemen on President Obama’s National Security Council.


The final and perhaps most important of these summits is the Arab Islamic-U.S. summit on Sunday, where Trump will be joined by leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries. It’s there that Trump will deliver a hotly anticipated speech on Islam and announce a new counterterror partnership.

“We’re going to have the president basically saying that this is not a war between the West and Islam, this is a war between good and evil and we all have to come together to try to attack it,” a senior administration official told ABC News.

Whether the president, who has himself attacked Islam, can deliver — and how it will be received in the Muslim world — remains to be seen. But the Saudi government, which carries great influence in the Muslim world as the seat of its two holiest cities, seems open to the idea.

The summit will address “building more robust and effective security partnerships to counter and prevent the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism,” according to their website. And after the summit, Trump will participate in the inauguration of their new center to fight radicalism and promote moderate Islam, as well as in a Twitter forum with young people in the region.

“We expect the King to say that the extremism problem is really a Muslim problem, and the Muslims have to step up and do more,” the senior administration official added.

More, according to Jubeir, means a new military partnership between the U.S. and the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, a counterterror alliance started by Saudi Arabia in 2015. The challenge for Trump, however, will be to make those commitments mean something more than a photo op.

“Many of the Gulf governments lack strong institutions. They are better at making announcements than following through,” wrote Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “U.S. leadership here means insisting on even tighter bilateral and multilateral ties and better execution of the law enforcement mission.”

Before it has begun, however, the summit has already run into problems.

Sunni Saudi Arabia did not invite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, instead inviting the much less powerful Iraqi president Fuad Masum, a Sunni Kurd.

The perceived insult was seen to alienate Abadi, a crucial partner in the international fight against ISIS, and as one former U.S. ambassador told ABC News, it betrays an American administration either too disorganized to notice or too naive to grasp the importance.


While the White House wants to focus on the counterterror fight and follow through on its main regional foreign policy objective of defeating ISIS, behind the scenes the Saudis and others will be harping on another subject that matters more to them: Iran.

In fact, to some experts, all the ceremony and pageantry of Trump’s visit disguises the Kingdom’s true intention, to get assurances from the U.S. president that he will take an aggressive line against Tehran. Wounded by President Obama’s diplomatic outreach to the Iranians in the form of 2015’s multilateral nuclear non-proliferation agreement, Saudi Arabia sees their neighbors across the Gulf as their chief rival and threat.

Getting the U.S. president to take a tough line against Iran may not be so hard. Trump campaigned against the Iranian nuclear agreement and many of his advisers including McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis have decried Iranian regional hegemony.

That tough talk was evident again this week even as the administration signed waivers to extend the Iran nuclear deal.

“That line of thinking is the same as the Saudis,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Iran is the bigger threat to them, over ISIS.”

It’s not a position the Saudis have kept very secret.

“We will work with our allies, particularly U.S., to see that Iran is made to act like a normal country,” Jubeir told reporters Thursday.

Working together means the U.S. sending new weapons as the Saudis fight off what they see as an existential threat on their southern border — the Houthi rebels in Yemen who are supported by Iran.

While expressing some discomfort about the Saudi war in Yemen, the Obama White House nonetheless actively supported Riyadh militarily during the conflict, with the exception of an arms deal to the Kingdom they cancelled in December of 2016 over mounting concerns about the civilian death toll there.

Trump, who, along with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has been criticized by some for neglecting human rights concerns, aims to move full speed ahead with those sales.

Beyond weapons in Yemen, though, it is unclear how else the Arab Gulf states will push Trump to counter Iranian influence.


Finally, with Trump under a cloud of suspicion back home after an exhausting two weeks of scandals, the White House is hoping for some souvenirs to bring back home.

In particular, they want to wave an economic package for the domestic audience as an example of Trump the deal-maker president helping America domestically.

“That’s the press release for folks back home,” said a former U.S. official who worked on Middle Eastern policy. “The sales, the jobs, the ‘Look at what I can do for our economy.'”

The $100-billion arms sale will be part of that, but so will American investment packages in the Kingdom as it strives toward Saudi Vision 2030, its program to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

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