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President Trump to embark on first foreign trip as president
19 May 2017, 10:50 | Terri Saunders
President Trump had maintained an extremely negative view of Saudi Arabia for years before being sworn in as president, saying that he was "definitely not a big fan" of the kingdom, and that the U.S. should not be working to "support Saudi terrorists".
It was a week that eventually could put Trump's entire presidency in jeopardy and has left his White House dispirited, confused and at odds with itself.
The last president to take longer before traveling overseas was Lyndon B. Johnson, who waited more than 10 months after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 before visiting Canada. On Thursday, Melania announced her first foreign trip as the first lady.
"He can look presidential and it gets him away from a flood of problems at home", said Henry Brady, Dean of the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. Foreign trips are a grueling proposition for even the most seasoned commander in chief - with their tedious summits and official dinners, stifling protocol and on-camera moments ripe for a misstep that can cause a diplomatic incident or ignite a political firestorm.
The stakes will be far higher as President Trump makes his debut on the worldwide stage.
In addition, the sheer logistical challenge meanwhile of moving a President around the world is enormous.
From there it's on to the Vatican and a meeting with Pope Francis who had been critical of the Trump campaign's positions on immigrants.
"At least I can say that I went", Trump told The New York Times previous year. The day trip marked the only time Trump has set foot in his wife's home country.
"I think this is going to be important because it's supposed to translate into action on the ground, financial participation, troop participation, intelligence exchange". Can the trip work as a restart of some kind for his administration?
"This is as much a sign of Saudi regional leadership" as of U.S. assertiveness, and aims to show the extent to which the kingdom can gather key Muslim leaders, said Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
President Trump has a meeting with leaders of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which the president has criticized.
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Saudi Arabia, which wants Trump to do more to assist in its war in Yemen and help in the fight to oust President Bashar Assad, has arranged separate talks between Trump and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. No one can guarantee he is ready to move on from blasting the Russian Federation probe.
In reality, the likelihood of failure may not worry either Trump or the Saudi leadership, both of whom have shown a propensity for policy characterized by big, flashy announcements that are rarely followed through with concrete steps.
In Trump, however, many Saudis see a decisive, business-focused leader, who they say shares their goals in the region.
As soon Trump leaves Washington he will be heading for the deep end of global geopolitics.
Given the challenges Trump's administration is facing in America, how much can Trump accomplish during his trip overseas?
Riyadh- It is remarkable that the USA president's first foreign visit destination is Riyadh, especially that the U.S. is the most capable state in managing world affairs.
Still, Trump does have one advantage.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, the oppressive sheiks running Bahrain have also received fresh military imports from the United States, decried by their jailed human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, in his recent column in the New York Times. Not only that, the phone conversation also stressed the long-term friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries and highlighted the necessity to boost mutual efforts to fight terrorism and formulate the bases of peace to the region's crises. He's also likely to complain about the Obama administration's Iran nuclear deal, though his administration has certified that Tehran is sticking to the terms of the agreement. Since early 2015, the kingdom's military effort has been more focused on Yemen, where it leads an Arab coalition supporting Yemen's government against Shia Huthi rebels backed by Iran. "And, third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of three of the world's greatest religions".
In Saudi Arabia, people with knowledge of the planning for Trump's trip say the caterers are planning to offer the president steak and ketchup alongside the lamb and hefty portions of rice on the menu.
"We are witnessing now a change in the tone, change in policy" from Trump, he said. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were from Saudi Arabia. Obama's agenda and announcements on those trips were completely overshadowed by the campaign. United States officials had warned that acting now could end the President's hopes of reigniting the Middle East peace process. He'll close his trip with a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, often-staid affairs that require leaders to be locked in lengthy plenary sessions.
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