Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia, kicking off first foreign trip as president

Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid airport

President Trump on his first foreign trip has arrived at the Royal Court Palace in Saudi Arabia where he will begin a full day of meetings with the country’s royalty.

The president was greeted by King Salman and honored with an elaborate red carpet ceremony. A Saudi military band then played the Star-Spangled Banner.

The White House staff with the president — Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Joe Hagin, Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, Sean Spicer and Dina Powell — all shook hands with Trump and King Salman as they arrived.

Trump was also presented with the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi nation’s highest honor.

After the award was bestowed, the president and king spoke briefly.

Their conversation at one point touched on Syria, with King Salman heard noting that the now war-torn country used to be an advanced nation and pondering how quickly a country can be destroyed.

“Syria too used to be one of the most advanced countries,” the king said. “We used to get our professors from Syria. They served our kingdom. Unfortunately, they too brought destruction to their own country. You could destroy a country in mere seconds, but it takes a lot of effort.” President Donald Trump arrived in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh Saturday morning, marking the kick-off of his first foreign trip as president.

The ceremony at the palace came after the president and first lady Melania Trump landed at King Khalid International Airport around 9:45 a.m. local time after an overnight flight from Washington on Air Force One.

The Trumps descended down a set of stairs from the plane onto a red carpet, where they were greeted by King Salman. Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Trump exited the jet from the back steps, prior to the president. Ivanka wore an ankle-length dress.

At the airport, King Salman joined the president for a walk down a red carpet, with the Saudi Royal Guard lined up at attention along either side with trumpets playing. Jets also flew overhead, leaving behind a stream of smoke in red, white and blue. The first lady followed behind, dressed in a flowing black jumpsuit and a gold belt.

The president and first lady then walked into the terminal where a coffee reception with King Salman was held. The pair spoke through an interpreter inside the terminal, according to The Associated Press.

The high-profile welcome stands in stark contrast to the low-key reception Obama received in the kingdom last year, when the governor of Riyadh was the highest-ranking official to greet the president.

The Saudis offered Trump an elaborate welcome. Billboards featuring his image lined the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump’s luxury hotel in red, white and blue lights.

About two hours after arriving in Saudi Arabia, Trump tweeted photos of himself there, writing, “Great to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead. #POTUSAbroad.”

During the hours leading up to Trump’s arrival in Riyadh, White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted photos of the city’s preparations.

The trip marks the first time a U.S. president has made Saudi Arabia, a Muslim-majority country, his first stop. Typically, Canada has been the first foreign country a president visits.

After Saudi Arabia, the commander in chief will travel to Israel, Italy, Vatican City and Belgium. During the trip, Trump will meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, King Philippe of Belgium and the leaders of the G7 countries, among others.

The president will take part in bilateral meetings with the Saudi royal leadership while in the kingdom.

The Trumps will join the Saudi royal family for an official dinner Saturday night.

On Sunday, Trump will deliver a speech at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit on U.S. relations with the Muslim world and the global effort to confront religious extremism and promote moderation. He will help inaugurate a “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.”

The president will also attend meetings with the Gulf Cooperation Council members.

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.

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Source: ABC News

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