Trump announces trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican

Donald Trump

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 aim, one senior administration official said, was to reverse a trend "of America's disengagement from the world and some of its biggest problems".

Speaking to reporters after the Trump administration said the president would visit Riyadh this month, Adel al-Jubeir said the trip would include a bilateral summit, a meeting with Arab Gulf leaders and another with leaders of Arab and Muslim countries.

Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had a testy relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The pope later, after Trump was elected, sent the newly-minted president well wishes and said he was praying that his "decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide".

Trump also reached out to America's "Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries".

In Israel, Trump will meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Iran, ISIS, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Trump hailed the planned visits as important to building a coalition of partners who share the goals of fighting terrorism and bringing safety and stability to the Middle East.

Mr Al Jubeir also said Mr Trump had a high probability of securing a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

A USA president's first foreign trip often carries as much symbolic significance as substantive meaning, and Trump is expected to use the trip to underline his priority of fighting Islamic extremism in the form of Isis and others.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Trump in Washington in March in a visit a senior Saudi advisor called a "historical turning point" in relations.

Brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has bedevilled successive U.S. leaders, Mr Trump told Mr Abbas that together with the Israelis, they could bag "the toughest deal to make".

During last year's election campaign Pope Francis said a man with Trump's views on immigration and his intention to build a wall on the border with Mexico is "not Christian". Since Ronald Reagan visited Mexico during his transition and Canada as his first foreign stop in office, each successive president has chosen one of those two countries as the kickoff for worldwide travel. Trump has said he wants to serve as a "mediator, arbiter or facilitator" to help Israel and Palestine reach a peace accord but added, "Any agreement can not be imposed by the United States or any other nations". Trump shot back that it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question someone's faith.



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