Senior White House officials said today that President Trump's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy will seek to unite the leaders of different nations and religions in the fight against radicalism and intolerance.
US President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk into the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who is visiting Washington, attributed to the "merits" and "great efforts" of the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, that Trump's first worldwide trip as a president is to this Muslim country, said the Foreign Ministry.
Trump made the announcement after meeting with Catholic cardinals in the Oval Office, and a day after he met with Abbas at the White House.
During his campaign for the presidency, Trump repeatedly indicated he wanted the United States to draw back from solving all the world's major problems, proposing a more nationalistic and isolationist agenda. Trump's visit will be historic "by every measure", Jubeir said, noting that Saudi Arabia is the indispensable partner for Trump's regional goals, in addition to being a key US investor and trading partner.
First lady Melania Trump will "will accompany her husband for the entire trip", an East Wing spokeswoman told CNN.
The trip will take place in conjunction with Trump's already-planned attendance at the G-7 conference in Sicily. After visiting three regions pivotal to the development of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, Trump will go to Brussels and Sicily for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and meeting of the G7 economic powers. Trump on Thursday signed an executive order promising "regulatory relief" for groups with religious objections to the requirement.
Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Trump in Washington in March in a visit hailed by a senior Saudi advisor as a "historical turning point" in U.S. -Saudi relations. A senior administration official said Arab leaders had told the administration they felt abandoned in recent years, and had told them this visit would be a historic opportunity.
Trump singled out the visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will begin his trip and which he noted was the custodian of the two holiest Islamic sites, as especially significant. Then, he will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who was at the White House Wednesday, for further discussions about Middle East peace.
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.