Why Trump chose Saudi Arabia for first foreign trip

Donald Trump

Meanwhile, the president has signed an executive order created to ease a ban on political activity by churches.

"My first foreign trip as president of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome", Trump announced on Thursday.

Washington, London - US President Donald Trump will kick off his first global trip as president by visiting Saudi Arabia later this month, a stop, which he said, would be historic.

"It will lead to, we believe, enhanced cooperation between the United States and Arab and Islamic countries in combating terrorism and extremism, and it will change the conversation with regards to America's relationship with the Arab and Islamic world", Mr al-Jubeir said.

President Donald Trump will visit the Vatican and meet with Pope Francis May 24 as part of his first foreign trip as president.

The multi-country tour will coincide with Trump's participation in the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit in Southern Italy on May 26.

"Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam", said Trump, who has frequently been accused of fuelling Islamophobia.

It will be the first foreign trip for Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" isolationist platform.

During President Barack Obama's tenure, relations with the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia in particular, were strained over his administration's engagement with Iran. "We're going to talk about the peace process, how we go forward, outline what we think will be a good future in that region".

In February 2016, Pope Francis visited Mexico and on US-Mexico border, he remarked a human tragedy to forced relocation.

"Whether he can or can't" achieve what others could not, "it's our job to try", one official said.

During the Israel visit there will be a discussion about "ways to advance a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians", according to the White House.

The maiden foreign trips of USA presidents often take on broader symbolic importance, and by choosing the Middle East as his first stop, Trump will highlight his lofty promises to eradicate Daesh and bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

While there, the president and a group of Muslim leaders plan to have a dialogue about regional issues, including combating extremism.

The trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican is a splashy debut for a president who has, until now, largely avoided major trips outside of Washington.

As of April, the White House had not approached the Holy See for an audience with the pope during Trump's trip. Trump hopes to use the meeting to obtain a "long term fix for radicalization" in the Muslim world, as well as to work to cut off funding for terror groups and to increase burden sharing in the fight against ISIS.

Trump visit's announcement came as Iran's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, bluntly refuted what he described as "arbitrary and provocative" pronouncements by the Deputy Crown Prince and Second Deputy Prime Minister.

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