Obama Touches Down in Riyadh; Came to Seek King Abdullah's Counsel

President Obama arrived in at the Royal airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at around 2:20pm local time today. The visit to Saudi Arabia was a last minute addition to the schedule, ahead of his heavily anticipated speech in Cairo. Obama received a formal military welcome. Drums played as he disembarked Air Force One, and a 21 gun salute could be heard in the distance. Saudi King Abdullah greeted Obama with a light embrace and the two leaders touched cheeks on either side.

After listening to the national anthems and sharing a cup of Arabic coffee in the palatial, marble floored terminal, the two leaders left for what the White House is calling a the King's "farm". That's hardly an apt description of this lush, sprawling estate. A veritable oasis amid a vacant stretch of arid land, the ornate complex is decorated with chandeliers, elaborately carved ceilings, gold plated chairs and plush carpets. The King stables his stallions here, and we saw a dozen or more of them as guards bearing American and Saudi flags lined the entrance drive on horseback.

The two men are currently holding a bilateral meeting. They'll likely discuss several pressing issues: energy, violence in Pakistan, Iran and Middle East peace. The relationship is an important one for both men. President Bush came under fire from the left at times for perhaps being too close the Saudis, but, lacking Bush's commercial background, Obama is unlikely to face the same critique. That said, good relations with King Abdullah are critical to his message of reconfiguring relations between the United States and the Muslim world. Obama made this clear in brief remarks to reporters prior to the meeting, saying he'd come to "

King Abdullah returned the President's kind words, calling Obama "

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** UPDATE ** Reporters were just informed that the medallion given to the president is the King Abdul Aziz Collar, considered the highest honor in the Kingdom.

Obama Touches Down in Riyadh; Came to Seek King Abdullah's Counsel | News