Arts&Culture

Trump visit draws Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia for men-only concert

Trump visit draws Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia for men-only concert

In honor of the USA leader's visit, the Gulf kingdom is making arrangements for his entertainment, including a concert in the capital Riyadh.

Where does the president stand on the Middle East peace process?

Planning for the foreign trip has proceeded haltingly, with Trump resisting some of the pageantry that is usually a hallmark of a president's travels.

The first lady is joining the president for some events, but will participate in other events on her own.

But a political uproar in Washington over Trump's firing of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, allegations that he pressed Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the subsequent appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties with Trump's campaign threaten to overshadow his trip.

He noted that Saudi Arabia severely restricts freedom of expression and religion, and do not allow the construction of Christian churches.

On Thursday, the president will take part in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Belgium and then pay a visit to what was, during his election campaign, the "evil empire": the European Union headquarters in Brussels, and a meeting with the heads of the EU and the European Council. Will he use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism?"

KEITH: Well, President Trump had previously said that he thought North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was obsolete.

"This visit will be considered by history as a crucial turning point in opening relations between the Arab world and the West", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told reporters Thursday at the palatial Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh.

A senior adviser to President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump will be present for six days of the nine-day trip, which begins Friday, the official said.

"In the Middle East there are so many minorities like Christians and as a Muslim I am appalled at what is happening to them", he said. That includes France's newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, who denounced Trump's musings on abandoning the Paris climate treaty, a likely point of contention in Sicily.

Trump denies telling Comey to back off Flynn investigation
The person who described the Comey memo to the AP was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Trump was also asked about his thoughts on the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Muller to lead the probe.

Not on the guest list are Iran, the Saudis' regional nemesis, and Syria, whose president, Bashar Assad, is at war with rebels who have received support from the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries that will be in Riyadh.

The prime minister is expected to highlight Bangladesh's recent success in combating terrorism and extremism at the summit.

"Historic Summit. Brighter Future", declares an official website for the visit.

"Any new president has to be better than President Obama, because no one was worse for us than Obama", said Salman al-Dossary, a writer for the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. They now see a golden opportunity to rebuild ties with their most important ally.

They applauded his military strike on a Syrian air base after Assad's forces used chemical weapons, and they have noted his tough talk on Iran.

"The areas of understanding and the areas of agreement are far greater than any potential areas of disagreement", he said recently in Washington.

The concert will also feature a person who plays the Arabian lute.

China lodged an official protest with the United States on Thursday over new USA sanctions on Iran that target a Chinese business tied to Tehran's ballistic missile programme.

Despite Trump's erratic positions toward the kingdom, Saudi leaders are ready to embrace him with the full red carpet treatment when he arrives this weekend.

"Until the oil went down, Saudi Arabia was making a billion dollars a day".


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