The United States on Saturday announced military deals worth $350 billion, during a visit by President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia.A White House official said Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would attend the signing of a memorandum of intent on a package of defense equipment and services to bolster the security of the kingdom and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats."This package demonstrates, in the clearest terms possible, the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia and our Gulf partners, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the US defense industrial base," a statement said. Dogged by controversy at home, Trump won a warm reception in Saudi Arabia on Saturday but struggled to shift attention from the political firestorm over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
His firing of Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his election campaign's ties to Russia last year have raised the question of whether he tried to squelch a probe into the alleged Russia connection.
Fanning the flames was a New York Times report that Trump had called Comey a "nut job" in a private meeting last week in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The Times quoted briefing notes of the conversation.
Asked for a response, the White House said that for national security reasons, "we do not confirm or deny the authenticity of allegedly leaked classified documents."
Russia's Interfax news agency on Saturday quoted Lavrov as saying he had not discussed Comey with Trump. "We did not touch this issue at all," the minister said.
In another development, the Washington Post said a current White House official close to Trump was a significant "person of interest" in the investigation into possible ties with Russia.A New York Magazine reporter later named the individual as Trump's son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner, but that information has yet to be independently verified.
The fallout followed Trump to Riyadh but did nothing to cool the welcome he received by the royal Saudi family.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz greeted Trump on a red carpet as he stepped off Air Force One, shaking the hand of his wife, Melania, and riding in the US presidential limousine.