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19 May 2017, 06:49 | Bernard Bryant
"President Omar al-Bashir has apologised to King Salman of Saudi Arabia for being unable to attend the Riyadh summit", a statement from his office carried by the official SUNA news agency said. "They need foreign direct investment to transform the economy, and the US doesn't need oil anymore". The kingdom backs efforts to topple the Syrian government, which counts Iran and Russian Federation as its closest allies. Yet each of those meetings will be shadowed by Mr Trump's firing last week of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.
Saudi Arabia has been enthusiastic about Trump's arrival at the White House after seeing his predecessor Barack Obama as too soft on its arch foe Iran and cool toward Washington's bilateral relationship with Riyadh that is a mainstay of the Middle East's security balance.
"This (new) administration comes in and ... says, "No, wait a minute, Iran is active", the official said, referring to Gulf states' views of Iran's involvement through proxies in regional conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. Prince Mohammed has ruled out any dialogue with Iran, framing the tensions in sectarian terms and accusing Iran of trying to "control the Islamic world". Trump is scheduled to address the Twitter event, where Fox's Baier will also be a speaker.
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Toby Keith, famous for his songs about alcohol and women, is to perform in the ultra-conservative Islamic country in an alcohol and women-free concert. White House officials have said in recent days that joint economic projects could be announced worth tens of billions of dollars. Trump will continue to support the bloody Saudi war in Yemen, which is now also in the grips of a ugly starvation; he will nearly certainly avoid lecturing the kingdom about its abysmal record on human rights; and it's unlikely that he would publicly call out the role that extremist preachers and certain Islamic charities in Saudi Arabia play in fomenting extremism and jihadist movements elsewhere.
The last president to take longer before traveling overseas was Lyndon B. Johnson, who waited more than 10 months after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 before visiting Canada.
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