Trump announces first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican
Donald Trump on Thursday confirmed his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.world Updated: May 05, 2017 00:28 IST
Donald Trump on Thursday confirmed his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.
Trump will add the three stops to an already announced visit to NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Sicily later this month.
“My first foreign trip as president of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome,” Trump said.
In a speech in the Rose Garden at an event on religious liberty, Trump cast his trip as an effort to build cooperation and support between Muslims, Christians and Jews for fighting terrorism.
“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East,” Trump said.
Trump’s predecessor President Barack Obama had a testy relationship with both Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose leaders viewed him as being concerned less with traditional alliances than with negotiating a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.
Trump has made forging peace in the Middle East and fighting Islamic State a focus of his administration’s foreign policy.
Trump complained in an interview with Reuters last week Saudi Arabia was not treating the United States fairly and that Washington was losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Trump in Washington in March in a visit a senior Saudi advisor called a “historical turning point” in relations. Trump has said he is counting on Gulf allies in his fight against Islamic State militants.
Trump, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in February, has assigned his son-in-law Jared Kushner to oversee efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday but did not say how he would revive long-stalled peace talks.
Trump has asked Israel to limit its building of Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for a state.
Senior sources told Reuters Trump was expected to meet the Pope on May 24.