That has left foreign policy analysts wondering which Donald Trump is going to show up for his first foreign trip, which has him visiting five countries in the Middle East and Europe over nine days.
America's first lady has not been "ordered" to dress conservatively in Saudi Arabia, the country chosen by her husband as his first official overseas destination. And we have the G-7. Saudi Arabia is expected to press the United States on Iran and reiterate its position that Iran's activity in the region is the cause of a great deal of instability.
CORNISH: NPR's Tamara Keith is about to leave for the trip herself.
On Saturday evening, the president and the first lady will join members of the Saudi royal family for an official dinner, USA national security advisor H R McMaster revealed earlier this week.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
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After all, he made this promise on Inauguration Day: "We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth", the newly sworn in president vowed.
President Trump is also expected to announce plans for a NATO-like organization of Arab countries that would fight Islamic terror groups in the region. You know, there's precedent for this.
Known to dislike long trips, the president will be joined by his wife Melania, who has until now cut a highly discreet figure at his side. There's really no escape from domestic politics. So it's possible that this first leg of his trip could provide something of a reprieve. He will follow that with visits to Israel, the Vatican City, Brussels and Sicily.
"This trip will convey that America is back", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a news conference at the State Department. This is not a battle about cultures. Trump, whose denunciations of Iran have been welcomed by the Saudis, wants to frame the conflict not as one between the West and Islam, but simply between good and evil, according to his aides.
King Salman has invited more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders for the summit, where they will feast with Trump at a banquet and "forge a new partnership" in the war against extremism. And he, as his national security adviser put it recently, will call on these Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam.
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European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reflected the cynical view of Trump's views by threatening to "break up" the United States by encouraging OH and Austin, Texas, to split from the rest of America after Trump praised British plans to leave the EU and predicted that other countries will follow Britain leaving the union.
CORNISH: Meanwhile, his stops in Europe will include a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance in Brussels, also the G-7 in Italy.
Or, will it be the Donald Trump who a week later stood with the secretary-general of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - an organization he'd earlier declared obsolete - and pledged to work with the decades-old alliance to clean up a messy world?
President Trump will arrive in the desert kingdom this weekend bearing gifts, among them tens of billions of dollars' worth of USA military hardware to help the Saudis boost their defense capabilities. And one symbolic way that they'll do that is with the unveiling of an Article 5 Memorial, which will memorialize how North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries responded to help America following the 9/11 attack.
He will then meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
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Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller waits to go on the air in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2017.