RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - President Barack Obama began his latest bid to open a dialogue with the Muslim world by paying a call Wednesday on Saudi King Abdullah, guardian of Islam's sacred sites in Mecca and Medina.
The monarch of Saudi Arabia greeted Obama at Riyadh's main airport with a ceremony when the new U.S. president arrived after an overnight flight from Washington. A band played "The Star-Spangled Banner." And each leader shook hands with members of his counterpart's entourage.
Obama and Abdullah then chatted briefly in public and shook hands, with cameras capturing the scene. Then, they retreated to hold private talks on a range of issues.
Saudi Arabia is a stopover en route to Cairo, where Obama is to set deliver a speech that he's been promising since last year's election campaign - aiming to set a new tone in America's often-strained dealings with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.
Many of those Muslims still smolder over Iraq, Guantanamo and unflinching U.S. support of Israel, but they are hoping the son of a Kenyan Muslim who lived part of his childhood in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, can help chart a new course.