Trump to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Vatican, meet with pope

Trump to visit the Vatican on first foreign trip as president

Administration officials provided few details about the dates for the visits or which cities Trump would visit other than to say the stops will occur before the president attends a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels on May 25 and the Group of Seven summit of leading industrial nations in Taormina on the island of Sicily on May 26-27.

Saudi Arabia, the official said, will be the first stop "because they are the custodian of two holy mosques and at that site they will be convening a lot of the leaders from the Muslim world" to discuss issues with radicalization.

In the peace process and the fight against the Islamic State, Trump is depending heavily on Saudi Arabia - the country granted his first presidential visit. However, Trump has continued to say that most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations, like Germany, don't contribute enough to its efforts. Aides believe Trump's use of force after Syrian President Bashar al Assad turned chemical weapons on his own people has resonated with world leaders who saw America's leadership falter during the Obama years.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Salman Saud met Mr Trump in Washington in March in a visit hailed by a senior Saudi adviser as a "historical turning point" in US-Saudi relations. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement later Thursday.

In Saudi Arabia, the president will meet with "leaders from all across the Muslim world".

Netanyahu has called Trump's actions on the Middle East a "great change in the direction of American policy".

The president was said to be planning a major speech while in Israel at the ancient fortress known as Masada, and was also weighing a visit to Bethlehem, the source of significant tension between Israeli and Palestinian officials. "It also lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim ..."

But on the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly complained that Saudi Arabia was not treating the US fairly and that the USA was spending too much money defending Saudi interests.

Officials say the Saudis started the conversation after the election - saying they saw opportunities with Trump and his vision.

The visit comes as Mr Trump wades into Middle East peacemaking, trying to reach a deal where his predecessors and countless diplomats have failed. 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".

He has assigned his son-in-law Jared Kushner to oversee efforts.

Traveling next to Italy, Trump will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss cooperation between the U.S. and religious communities in areas of joint concern. NATO's next summit is not scheduled until next year in Istanbul, but the May 25 meeting was specially scheduled to enable other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders to meet with Trump.

The second-to-last stop on the trip will be a day-long meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders in Brussels. Our three most-traveled presidents in history have been the last three presidents. Also in Rome, Trump will meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who hosts this month's G-7 summit in Sicily.



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