The Cable

(Reuters) Dogged by controversy at home, Donald Trump opened his first presidential foreign trip in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and won a warm reception as he looked to shift attention from a political firestorm over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz greeted him on a red carpet as he stepped off Air Force One, shaking the hand of his wife, Melania, and riding in the U.S. presidential limousine.

It was a warmer welcome than had been granted last year to Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, who was seen in the Arab kingdom as soft on Iran and hesitant on Syria.

Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican and Belgium has been billed by the White House as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions, while giving Trump time to meet with Arab, Israeli and European leaders.

But the uproar in Washington cast a long shadow over the trip. The president's firing of Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign's ties to Russia last year have triggered a stream of bad headlines.

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