The King and O

By Caitlin Taylor

Jun 3, 2009 10:21am

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — At the king's Royal Farm in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this afternoon, President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz made a few remarks to the cameras.

Asked what his message in Saudi Arabia was, President Obama said, "This is my first visit to Saudi Arabia, but I've had several conversations with His Majesty.  And I've been struck by his wisdom and his graciousness.  Obviously the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of friendship, we have a strategic relationship.  And as I take this trip and we'll be visiting Cairo tomorrow, I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek His Majesty's counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East."

Continued the American president: "So I just want to again thank him for his extraordinary generosity and hospitality.  And I m confident that working together the United States and Saudi Arabia can make progress on a whole host of issues and mutual interests."

Speaking in Arabic, King Abdullah said, "I thank you, Mr. President, for the kind words and the kind sentiments expressed within them.  I am not surprised, given the historic and strategic ties between our two countries, I believe that go back to the time of the meeting between the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the late King Abdul-Aziz."

Continued the king: "I also want to express my best wishes to the friendly American people who are represented by a distinguished man who deserves to be in this position."

"Shukran," said the president, using the Arabic word for "thank you."

Their meeting here began when Air Force One touched down at 2:25 PM local time.

King Abdullah greeted President Obama on the red carpet. They shook hands and a band played the national anthems of both countries. Members of both countries' delegations shook hands with the other country's head of state.

They walked inside the airport, sat down on two ornate gold chairs, chatted briefly and drank Arabian coffee. The president does not particularly like coffee, but he drank all of his nonetheless.

– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

UPDATE: The gold medallion the king gave to the president is the King Abdul Aziz Collar, considered the highest honor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, usually presented to heads of state.
The drink the president shared with the king at the airport was cardamom coffee.

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