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Amid tumult over Russia probe, Donald Trump leaves on his maiden foreign trip

Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican, Belgium and Italy during his visit with the defeat of ISIS topping his agenda.

world Updated: May 20, 2017 09:12 IST
Donald Trump,Trump first foreign tour,FBI director fired
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for his first international trip as president, including stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and at the G7 summit in Sicily, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on May 19.(REUTERS)

President Donald Trump on Friday left on a nine-day maiden overseas trip during which he will visit five countries amid the controversy surrounding investigations into whether his campaign associates collaborated with Russia to sway the election.

Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican, Belgium and Italy during his visit with the defeat of ISIS topping his agenda. He is also expected to push for his agenda of boosting US economy, bringing peace in conflict-prone zones of the world and calling for greater security cooperation.

“Getting ready for my big foreign trip. Will be strongly protecting American interests - that’s what I like to do!” Trump told his nearly 30 million followers on Tweeter hours before he boarded Air Force One along with his top officials and a battery of White House reporters from Joint Andrews Air Force Base.

In Saudi Arabia, the first stop of his trip, Trump will address leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries with the message of peace and calling for a partnership with the Islamic world.

The leaders of the Muslim world – including those from Afghanistan and Pakistan – would be asked to sign a pledge to make it illegal in their countries to raise funds for extremist and terrorist groups.

Senior administration officials said the US later would hold these countries accountable if there is any violation of the pledge.

However, a major highlight of his trip would be his address to the Muslim world.

“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilisation and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” his National Security Adviser Lt General H R McMaster said ahead of the trip.

McMaster said Trump will also participate in a signing ceremony of several agreements that will further solidify US- Saudi security and economic cooperation.

According to senior administration officials, agreements are expected to cross a whopping $ 500 billion in all, with security co-operation alone accounting for $300 billion.

During his Saudi Arabia visit, Trump would have a chance to interact with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, the White House has not confirmed if the two leaders have a bilateral meeting with either Ghani and Sharif.

Both have made a request for the bilateral meeting.

From Saudi Arabia, Trump would travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and would reiterate his commitment to the security of the country.

In his meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem later, Trump will convey his administration’s eagerness to facilitate an agreement that ends the conflict.

“He will urge Palestinian leaders to take steps that will help lead to peace. And he will visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and say a prayer at the Western Wall,” McMaster said.

McMaster said Trump looks forward to “celebrating the rich contributions of Catholics to America and to the world” in his meeting with the Pope in Vatican, his next stop.

In his meeting, Trump expects to discuss a range of issues of mutual concern, McMaster said.

Trump would then head to Brussels where he will meet with the presidents of the European Union and that of the European Council.

“He will then hold a working lunch with the newly elected president of France, whom he will meet in person for the first time,” McMaster said.

In Brussels, Trump will deliver his remarks at the unveiling of NATO’s memorial to their shared struggle in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall and a segment of the World Trade Center.

“He will reaffirm America’s commitment to the alliance and repeat his insistence that, for the good of the alliance, all members must share responsibility and share burdens,” McMaster said.

From Brussels, Trump would travel to Sicily for the G-7.

“Throughout the summit, he will meet bilaterally with leaders, including the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. In the formal meetings, he will press America’s economic agenda and call for greater security cooperation,” he said.

On the first night of the summit, he will also attend a concert performed by the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a leaders’ dinner hosted by the President of Italy.

Before departing Italy for home, the President will speak to American and allied servicemen and women and their families, McMaster said.

First Published: May 20, 2017 09:05 IST