Trump's first foreign trip has high stakes at each stop


After a tumultuous week, the White House is hoping that President Donald Trump's first foreign trip, beginning Friday, will be a chance to reset the tone of his presidency.

The Trump administration has been hoping that the visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican, and Brussels would help him reinforce close USA ties with key allies, particularly in the Middle East.

That was before he fired his Federal Bureau of Investigation director - and the chain reaction of scandal that followed.

European will make a big push to convince Trump that they are not getting credit for all the things they are doing to contribute to the alliance.

News reports later said Trump in February tried to pressure Comey into dropping the probe into Trump's first national security adviser, who had reportedly lied about his Russian Federation communications.

"President Trump has an unprecedented and serious intention to work with the Muslim world and to achieve its interests and Prince Mohammed considers his Excellency as a true friend of Muslims". And it's not just the bragging rights Trump gets when he goes to his own properties: Staffers know his meal preferences and the exact temperature he likes a room set at. "They were very disappointed with (former U.S.) President (Barack) Obama who they thought favored Iran rather than them".

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Referring to ISIL and al-Qaeda, he said: "Saudi Arabia agrees with the U.S. administration's view in relation to the role of the U.S. in the world and in relation to uprooting terrorism". It's been more than a half-century since any president waited as long to take his first foreign trip. One of them - Herbert C. Hoover - did not travel overseas as president. What sorts of "deliverables" will Trump come away with during this trip and will he defer to the leaders he's meeting with or be persuaded by their arguments?

In Saudi Arabia, the president - whose campaign was marked by heated anti-Muslim rhetoric and whose administration has tried to enact a travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries - will deliver a speech to the Islamic world meant to be a clear contrast with the vision Obama laid out in his first trip to the region.

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Saudi Arabia has been accused of fuelling Islamist extremism with its adherence to fundamentalist Wahhabism and funding foreign mosques and schools that spread the ideology, sparking criticism from German intelligence services in a recent report.

Mr McMaster added to the outrage by refusing to declare the Western Wall a part of Israel, in line with long-standing United States policy on East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, although his position was reversed by U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley.

Experts are also watching to see if Trump will signal any significant change in US policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in particular the disputed status of Jerusalem.

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Trump is expected to be welcomed warmly by leaders in Riyadh and Jerusalem, but lingering questions over his views on the Iran nuclear deal, commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation security and skepticism of the Paris climate agreement could generate tension at meetings with European counterparts in Brussels and Sicily. He recently has shifted to reassure wary allies that he remains committed to the pact. He'll close his trip with a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, often-staid affairs that require leaders to be locked in lengthy plenary sessions. Key parts of the group are unsettled by Trump's unpredictability and his willingness to cheer on nationalist sentiment.

With stops in the Middle East and at the Vatican, Trump's itinerary is rich in religious symbolism, and officials said the message was unity.

"He strongly believes that it is the strength of the faith of people in these religions that will stand up and ultimately be victorious over these forces of terrorism", Tillerson said.

Saudi Arabia is holding the event under the slogan Together We Prevail, in hopes of fighting extremist ideologies and co-operating with U.S. and Islamic allies to strengthen economic relations. 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.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are among the United States' closest allies in the Middle East, and both are supporting of the US effort to end the devastating 6-year-old war in Syria.

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