President Donald Trump is set to make his first overseas trip as the American leader in late May, visiting Israel and Saudi Arabia before heading to Europe to meet with Pope Francis and then world leaders at international meetings.
Trump already has met numerous heads of state at the White House and at his oceanfront retreat in Florida. But his first foreign destinations are in the volatile Middle East, where he has said he wants to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, a goal that has eluded past U.S. presidents for decades.
At a White House ceremony celebrating religious freedom in the United States, Trump noted that “Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism, and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”
He added, “Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity, and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East.”
The exact dates of the Middle East portion of the trip were not immediately known, but they precede a visit with the pope at the Vatican on May 24.
Then Trump plans on attending back-to-back meetings the next two days with other international leaders, at NATO in Brussels on May 25 and with heads of state of the Group of 7 economic powers back in Italy on May 26.