Trump's Saudi visit shows he desires ties with Muslims

Caroline Beck
May 7, 2017

Describing the visit as historic, Adel Al Jubeir said Mr Trump's time in Saudi Arabia would include a bilateral summit, a meeting with Arab Gulf leaders and another with leaders of Arab and Muslim countries.

Trump is expected to visit with Pope Francis during his stop at the Vatican.

People who helped plan past presidents' foreign trips said a jaunt across the border also provided new White House aides a relatively easy trip to work out the logistical kinks of moving a president into a foreign country.

"Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace", Trump said at a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, at which he announced he would go to "Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome".

"Our task is not to dictate to other how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism", he added.

Interestingly, the day Trump was being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in January, Francis warned against the rise of populist leaders like Adolf Hitler, stating that "Hitler didn't steal power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people".

Over the weekend the pope told reporters aboard the plane returning from a trip to Egypt that he wasn't aware of any request from Trump for a meeting. He will visit Jerusalem, Israel, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior administration official.

Haaretz reported an official Israeli source as saying that Trump will also visit Bethlehem and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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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. The visit to Israel will reinforce that alliance, officials said.

This is the latest into a term that a president has waited to travel outside the country since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk into the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017.

President Obama met Pope Francis twice ― once at the Vatican in 2014 and also during the pontiff's trip to the United States in 2015.

Trump has not yet named a chief of protocol - an ambassador-level position that assists in working out detailing plans with a foreign government before a President travels overseas. Trump and Francis couldn't be more different in their approaches to some of the pressing issues of the day, with immigration and climate change topping the list.

"Anyone, whoever he is, who only wants to build walls and not bridges is not a Christian", Francis told journalists, responding to a question about the real estate mogul's anti- immigrant stance.

"It seems to me part of a conscious effort to draw a distinction between the Trump Administration and its predecessor", said Eric Pelofsky, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Obama's National Security Council senior director for North Africa and Yemen.

While he publicly sparred with Pope Francis during the election cycle, Trump has since said it would be "an honor" to meet with the Holy Father.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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