Monday, 26 June, 2017

Three things to watch on Donald Trump's foreign trip

Christy Curtis | 20 May, 2017, 00:48

Will it be the populist, "America first" president who declared to union workers on April 4 that he was "not president of the world?"

The trip marks the first time since taking office that Trump has spent a night away from the White House at a property that doesn't bear his name.

Trump will stay in Sicily for the final two days of his trip for the G7 summit, where he will speak to USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allied servicemembers and their families.

"We will work with our allies, particularly USA, to see that Iran is made to act like a normal country", Jubeir said. But it's highly unusual for an American president to be in the same venue as a leader so directly connected to a genocide - and who happens to lead a country that the United States lists as a state sponsor of terror.

She converted to Judaism when she married husband Jared Kushner.

Mr Trump is a USA president reluctant to travel out of his comfort zone, but eager for a policy win overseas that can recast, at least for a few news cycles, the narrative at home about his presidency, which even Republican allies have described as "a downwards spiral". It's been more than a half-century since any president waited as long to take his first foreign trip.

The stakes will be far higher as President Trump makes his debut on the worldwide stage.

In Israel, Trump will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, looking to smooth over fresh tensions. But instead of virtuously lecturing from on-high, as was the previous president's tactic, we must use our newly reinforced friendship with Saudi Arabia to continue to push for a more modern society that improves the rights and lives of women and minorities.

The travel may also help shape Mr Trump's attitude toward other key aides travelling with him who have been a source of frustration to the embattled president: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. US policy holds that ownership of the holiest site where Jews can pray, as with the rest of Jerusalem, is subject to Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

Trump's meeting with Pope Francis - two men at odds on everything from climate change to refugee policy - remains highly unpredictable, although the pontiff says he will give America's bullish leader an open-minded hearing.

The Saudis have also prepared a countdown clock for Trump's meetings on Saturday on a website that was launched to promote the events.

And in Sicily, the president will meet with the other leaders of the G7, a gathering of Western economic powers. His advisers say he wanted to visit these three major religious centers to deliver a message of unity in the fight against terrorism.

The US president's visit to the home of Islam's two holiest sites is also being billed by Riyadh and Washington as a resetting of ties with the Muslim world.

President Trump's team has indicated that he will support a version of an "Arab NATO", an ambitious plan that the Saudis have pushed for some time.

"What President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity", he told reporters.

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.

"It's really meant to be more of a touching base for the president", said Heather Conley, former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs. They see great opportunity here. But the downside is that it could be dominated by domestic-style questions.

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