Saudi Arabia first stop on Trump's landmark overseas tour

Marco Green
May 15, 2017

Trump also announced the trip in a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday, timed to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, in which he signed executive orders that he said would protect Americans' religious liberty.

U.S. President Donald Trump will make stops to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy on his first trip overseas at the end of May. He also will visit the Palestinian Authority, attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on May 25 and a Group of Seven meeting of economic superpowers in Italy on May 26.

The announcement follows Trump's meeting on Wednesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS') and Trump's pledge to mediate peace efforts.

One of the people with knowledge of the sales said that as planning for Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia intensified in recent weeks, the arms negotiations also accelerated.

President Donald Trump will make the first foreign trip of his presidency this month, and it's a real doozy.

A senior aide did not rule out the possibility of a presidential stop in the West Bank, but that is likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking, what the official described as, concrete steps toward peace. Trump had told the Reuters news service last week that Saudi Arabia was not treating the United States fairly and Washington was losing a "tremendous amount of money" defending the kingdom.

A USA administration official said the proposed sale was "undergoing interagency review".

Senior administration officials, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Saudi Arabia was picked as the first country to counter a narrative that Trump doesn't get along with Saudi officials.

One White House official said the trip is meant to show that Trump is not an isolationist leader. Netanyahu has called Trump's actions on the Middle East a "great change in the direction of American policy".

When he reported the news of the meeting, Vatican correspondent Josh McElwee wrote (rather politely, I thought): "Francis and Trump are known to have divergent opinions on a number of issues" and "The two famously had a somewhat tense exchange in February 2016, while Trump was campaigning to become the Republican Party's nominee".

Jubeir said traditional diplomacy had failed in brokering peace and that therefore a "fresh approach" by Trump, who had never held public office before becoming president, could have a high chance of succeeding.

But Trump retorted in a statement on his campaign website: "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith".

Trump later softened his tone, saying the pope was misinformed, unaware of the impact of the drugs coming into the United States and a range of security issues that made it necessary to build a wall along the southern USA border.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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