Trump aims for high drama on first foreign swing

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 17, 2017

Meanwhile, the president has signed an executive order created to ease a ban on political activity by churches.

On Thursday, the White House announced that President Donald Trump will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican later this month during his first trip overseas as president.

From Rome, Trump will travel to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and then to Sicily for a meeting of the Group of Seven economic powers.

The announcement follows Mr Trump's meeting on Wednesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the U.S. president's pledge to mediate peace efforts.

After the trip to the Middle East, Trump will then meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican to "discuss cooperation between the USA and religious communities in areas of joint concern", the statement noted.

The president previously announced that he would travel to Brussels, Belgium for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting on 25 May.

At the end of May, Trump is supposed to land in Saudi Arabia, which will be his first stop in his diplomatic tour outside of the US.

Trump could reverse a trend of increased travel for presidents in the last 50 years or so.

Faggioli says, "It is not clear who could prepare Trump for the meeting and how, given the personality of the president and of those who shape his foreign policy - people with a background in hard power (the military and CEOs from the business world)".

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.

Trump's announcement and how his aides framed it to reporters sought to allay concerns stoked during his presidential campaign and then during the first weeks of his presidency that he is anti-Muslim.

Declaring May 4 as the National Day of Prayer, Trump said freedom is not a gift of government.

"It's a clear and powerful message that the U.S. harbors no ill will toward the Arab and Muslim world", he said.

"I believe that, given his creative thinking and given his unconventional approach to this conflict, the probability that he can succeed is very high", Jubeir said.

"I think this also demonstrates that the president is willing to and has embraced his leadership role in multinational forums when they serve the interests of the American people and American security", the official said. They will "discuss a range of regional issues", including "ways to advance a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians", the White House said in a statement. But in the minds of White House officials, the grind is worth it in order to properly introduce Trump to a world that's still largely skeptical of his presidency.

On the presidential campaign trail Trump clashed with Pope Francis, after the pontiff criticized his anti-immigrant rhetoric and plans to build a wall along the border between the USA and Mexico.

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