PHOTOS: TRUMP AND MELANIA LEAVE WHITE HOUSE FOR THEIR FIRST FOREIGN TRIP – A NINE-DAY, FIVE-STOP DIPLOMACY TOUR IN SAUDI ARABIA, ISRAEL, VATICAN, BELGIUM, ITALY
President Donald Trump just left the country for his first trip abroad as president. The First couple departed for their nine-day, five-stop diplomacy tour through Europe and the Middle East that will cover 15,600 miles in the air over the course of nine days.
Trump’s tour will cover the three birthplaces of world’s three major religions. His first stop is Saudi Arabia ( the birth place of Islam ), next is Israel ( Judaism ), then the Vatican ( the Catholic ).
The president, the first lady Melania Trump, Chief of staff Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, left the White House aboard Marine One just before 2pm Friday, EST. They are currently on a 12-hour flight to Saudi Arabia.
The President’s itinerary below:
President Trump embarks Friday on a 15,500-mile trek through the Middle East and Europe, courting controversy at every stop. His itinerary:
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, May 20-21
The president will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for coffee and participate in a signing ceremony expected to focus on arms sales. After a meeting with leaders of more than a dozen Muslim-majority countries, he will deliver a speech about Islam that the White House is hoping will diffuse tensions resulting from his travel ban while also cementing the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a bulwark against both ISIS and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Trump will also participate in the grand opening of a cultural center dedicated to fighting Islamic radicalism and promoting a more moderate approach to practicing the religion.
TEL AVIV AND JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, May 22-23
Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visit Jerusalem’s famed Western Wall. A planned trip to the ancient Masada fort was scrapped after it was determined that the Marine One helicopter couldn’t land there – and the U.S. Secret Service was unwilling to put the president in a dangling cable car. Trump does plan to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was buried and rose from the dead. He will also stop to pray at the Western Wall and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial.
BETHLEHEM, THE WEST BANK, May 23
A high-stakes meeting with Mahmoud Abbas will mark Trump’s second sit-down with the Palestinian Authority’s president. Making progress toward an ever-elusive peace deal between Arabs and Jews is the most crucial foreign policy objective of the trip, according to White House insiders.
VATICAN CITY, May 24
Trump’s audience with Pope Francis could be a tense one, since the Pontiff questioned Trump’s commitment to Christianity during last year’s election campaign in reaction to his pledge to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump fired back, writing that ‘[f]or a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.’ Still, he will take advantage of the Holy See’s hospitality with a full tour of St. Peter’s.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, May 24-25
The president’s first meeting with leaders from all 28 NATO member nations will provide him the opportunity to press them for greater financial contributions toward keeping Russia in check. His scheduled speech at the summit will also give him the breathing room to proclaim America’s undying commitment to NATO, even though Trump called the alliance ‘obsolete’ while he was campaigning. Along the way the president will meet Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and Prime Minister Charles Michel. He will also have a working lunch with newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron.
TAORMINA, ITALY, May 26-27
The 43rd G7 summit, held on the island of Sicily, will be a chance for Trump to ‘press America’s economic agenda and call for greater security cooperation,’ according to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. It will also allow the president to appear presidential and calm the free world’s top economic powers about his leadership style. Trump will also attend a dinner hosted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, after seeing the famed La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra perform.