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Trump goes to Riyadh

US President Donald Trump may want to learn lessons from previous presidential encounters with Saudi kings if he wants his trip to visit King Salman to be a success.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman take their seats for lunch in the State Dining Room of the White House  in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX30ZV5

US President Donald Trump's decision to make Saudi Arabia his first foreign stop on his first trip abroad reflects the importance his administration has given to courting the Saudis. There are useful lessons to be learned from previous presidents' trips to the kingdom about how to successfully court the royal family.

The first American president to seek Saudi support was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He began by inviting two of King Ibn Saud's sons, Princes Faisal and Khalid (both future kings), to the White House in 1943 where the fundamentals of the American-Saudi relationship were agreed upon. On Valentine's Day 1945, FDR met with the king face to face on a US Navy cruiser, the USS Quincy, in the Suez Canal just after the Yalta summit. That moment is the cornerstone of the relationship.

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