U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., on March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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When U.S. President Donald Trump meets Saudi princes in Riyadh Saturday, he can expect a warmer welcome than the one given a year ago to his predecessor Barack Obama, who Riyadh considered soft on archfoe Iran and cool toward a bilateral relationship that is a mainstay of the Middle East's security balance.The U.S.-Saudi alliance has experienced turbulence since Riyadh faulted what it saw as Obama's withdrawal from the region, a perceived tilt toward Iran since the 2011 Arab uprisings and a lack of direct action against Syrian President Bashar Assad, an Iranian ally.U.S. public opinion of Saudi Arabia has never fully recovered since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.The Republican U.S. president along with first lady Melania Trump will dine with Saudi royal family members.While Trump has criticized Saudi Arabia for not paying enough for U.S. military support, he has been silent since becoming president about its religious conservatism.A New York Stock Exchange delegation is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia after Trump to try to lure a listing by Aramco, slated for 2018 and worth about $100 billion.
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