President Donald Trump will be traveling to several countries during his first trip abroad as the commander in chief. Here’s a quick look at where he’s going and the highlights of the trip:
May 20-21: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
What happened so far:In his speech to leaders of Muslim-majority nations on Sunday, Trump urged nations to “drive out” terrorists and called the fight against terrorism “a battle between good and evil.” He summoned every Muslim nation in the region to share the burden of eradicating terrorism, but stressed that Middle East nations cannot wait for the United States to intervene.
“It’s a choice between two futures, and it’s a choice that America cannot make for you,” Trump said.
Trump called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism,” and criticized the country for adding fuel to the conflict and its destabilizing role in Syria. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this very room,” Trumps said.
Trump described the fight against terrorism as “barbaric criminals” seeking the disrupt the lives of “decent people” and “innocent Muslims” in the name of religion.
“Terrorists do not worship god, they worship death,” Trump said.
He also praised cooperation among Muslim nations, mentioning the crucial role Jordanian pilots play in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, as well as American troops supporting Kurdish forces in Mosul and Afghan soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Trump’s trip began on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, where he was received like royalty. Trump was welcomed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman at the airport surrounded by soldiers on horseback, who flanked his limousine as it drove across the tarmac.
Many were waiting to see whether the first lady, Melania, would wear a headscarf. In the conservative country, laws require women to cover themselves and some hard-liners prefer that women wear burqas, which is a loose veil that covers a woman’s entire body. Foreigners, however, are not bound by this rule. Trump criticized Michelle Obama in 2015 for appearing without one, tweeting that the Saudis felt “insulted.” Nevertheless, the first lady and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump chose to forgo the headscarf and both wore full-length outfits.
Later in the day Trump signed a series of economic and military deals, including a military sales deal worth $110 billion, and was presented with a gold medal.
A photo of Trump giving a thumbs-up sign while riding an escalator made the rounds on social media, along with guidelines from the U.S. Embassy saying that the gesture is considered rude. However, that’s not the case, so Trump is in the clear. In fact, the king himself has made the gesture.
May 22-23: Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, Israel
What Trump plans to do: Meet and have dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He’ll also meet President Reuven Rivlin and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Things to watch for: What Trump says about the U.S.-Israel relations during his speech at the Israeli Museum. Israel remains a staunch ally of the United States, but Israelis on the right are wary of Trump’s intentions to once again discuss a peace deal with the Palestinians. Trump has been criticized for stalling on the campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Another issue the Israelis want to see resolved is the practice of Palestinian authorities paying prisoners – as well as their families – who have been jailed by the Israelis.
Trump’s visit to the Western Wall – one of the holiest sites in Judaism – has also stirred some controversy, as has the report that the highly classified information that he shared with Russian officials came from Israel.
May 23: West Bank, Bethlehem
What Trump plans to do: Meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, say a prayer at the Western Wall and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Things to watch for: How Trump will handle the discussion with Abbas on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Trump plans to urge Palestinian leaders to get to the negotiating table. During his meeting with Abbas at the White House in early May, Trump expressed optimism about the prospects of a bringing about a peace deal, saying: “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.” Palestinians are optimistic, too, and think Trump might be the one to do it.
May 24: Vatican City
What Trump plans to do: Meet Pope Francis and tour St. Peter’s Basilica. In Rome, he’ll also meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Things to watch for: How Trump will greet Pope Francis. The two will finally get a chance to meet for the first time after their slight spat on walls last year. The pope said anyone who builds a wall is “not Christian.” Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, shot back: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” Pope Francis has said he will not judge Trump before meeting him.
May 24-25: Brussels
What Trump plans to do: Meet with NATO heads of state and the presidents of the E.U. and the European Council. Trump will participate in a NATO meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has voiced his support for the alliance numerous times.
Things to watch for: What Trump says about NATO, considering he’s publicly flip-flopped on his opinion. Trump has called the alliance “obsolete,” but surprisingly took it back in April after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Another topic that will likely come up is funding. During his last trip to Brussels, Mattis compelled allies to ramp up their defense spending or risk altering their relationship with the United States.
May 26-27: Toarmina, Italy
What Trump plans to do: Attend the G-7 summit.
Things to watch for: The 43rd annual summit – which involves the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Japan – will be a time for countries to address their own agendas. According to the White House, Trump plans on touching on the U.S. economy and increased security cooperation. The summit itself will be an interesting time to see all of the newly elected world leaders assembled in one place, including new French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
May 27: Trump returns to the United States
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Julie Vitkovskaya