Trump to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia on first trip

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06 May, 2017

A statement from the White House said that Trump has "accepted the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel, where he will further strengthen the United States-Israel partnership".

Trump will cap off his tour with previously announced visits to Brussels, Belgium for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and Sicily, Italy for a Group of Seven meeting.

"Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace".

U.S. President Donald Trump will make stops to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy on his first trip overseas at the end of May.

The goals of the trip are to come up with a "long-term fix to radicalization", to find better ways to choke off the flow of funds to terror groups and to convince Arab countries to do more to bear the burden of the fights against extremists, a senior administration official said.

The senior Administration officials cast the trip as a shift in Trump's foreign policy, away from the calculating isolationism Trump called for in his campaign toward a more internationalist view.

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He will also visit Jerusalem, Israel, Riyadh and Saudi Arabia, a senior administration official was quoted by CNN, as saying. While "conventional wisdom" is that Trump is "weak on alliances", the official said, Trump is "strong on alliances", provided others are willing to contribute their fair share. "People are very psyched to work with the president", this official said. Emphasizing that weeks of work by the White House, the National Security Council staff and other security agencies preceded Thursday's announcement, they described a strategy in which Trump sets long-range goals and objectives - such as Israeli-Palestinian peace, or the defeat of the Islamic State and global terrorism in general - finds willing partners to address them under USA leadership, and maintains flexibility on how to achieve them.

During planned meetings with Muslim leaders, Trump will introduce an agenda aimed at countering Islamic radicalism, stemming funding to terrorist organizations, identifying ways US allies in the Middle East can "share the burden", countering the influence of Iran and defeating the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria.

The announcement follows Mr Trump's meeting on Wednesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the U.S. president's pledge to mediate peace efforts. The visit to Israel will reinforce that alliance, officials said.

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

The thrice-married Trump was raised as a Presbyterian and described himself as a "religious person" during his campaign, but often struggled to affirm his Christian credentials as he wooed the Evangelical voters who helped elect him.

Their relationship got off to a rocky start when, during the US presidential campaign, Francis famously said that anyone who wants to build a wall to keep out foreigners is "not Christian".


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