Trump embarks on trip to Mideast, Europe

Toby Keith Will Perform In Saudi Arabia During Trump's Visit

President Trump will try to leave his troubles behind as he departs on the first foreign trip of his presidency.

That was before he fired his Federal Bureau of Investigation director - and the chain reaction of scandal that followed.

Staff members in Donald Trump's White House should be "fully supporting the president's agenda" and should be fired for speaking to the press without authorization, according to Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Mr Trump's supporters hope that trip could be an opportunity to put scandals like the firing of James Comey behind him and to launch new diplomatic relationships.

"There has never been a president taking his first global trip being dogged by scandal like this", said Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

That smacks very much like the shocking assertion from Richard Nixon that if the president breaks the law, it's not illegal. US allies have been rattled by his warnings about pulling back from the world.

The trip could be a chance for the president to counter critics who accuse him of being anti-Muslim because of the order he issued, now blocked by USA courts, temporarily banning entry into the United States by citizens of several Muslim-majority countries. Last week, he added new layers of complication by disclosing classified intelligence to a longtime adversary. Trump's powerful senior adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, led a West Wing team to craft the agenda, laden with religious symbolism.

This will be the first opportunity for Mr Trump the showman to strut his stuff on the world stage, and to directly reassure a range of allies in an global forum that he has the temperament to be president. But even if he falls short of fixing the Middle East, the president's first foreign trip could serve as a welcome distraction from his woes at home. The itinerary, which begins Saturday in Saudi Arabia, is a startlingly ambitious excursion for a president who dislikes travel and has displayed a shaky grasp of foreign affairs.

"President Trump understands that America First does not mean American alone - to the contrary", insisted his national security advisor, H.R. McMaster.

The President embarks on a journey Friday to Saudi Arabia, Israel and global summits in Italy and Belgium, after one of the most tumultuous and damaging weeks any President has had to endure.

Questions have already been raised about the U.S. refusal to allow Prime Minister Netanyahu to accompany Mr Trump to the Western Wall.

The White House will release daily guidance the day before each event, and a full readout of the First Lady's activities will be provided at the end of each day. The information, about an IS threat related to the use of laptops on aircraft, came from Israel and there were concerns a valuable Israeli asset could be in danger, a US official said, requesting anonymity to discuss the sensitive material. The pope has said that anyone who wants to build walls to keep out migrants is "not Christian"; Trump said it was "disgraceful" that the pope would question his faith. He recently has shifted to reassure wary allies that he remains committed to the pact.

After his tour of religious sites, the President will head to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily. Key parts of the group are unsettled by Trump's unpredictability and his willingness to cheer on nationalist sentiment.

If you'd never considered Donald Trump the potential bridge between the world's religions, think again.

But the most striking moment of Trump's visit to the kingdom will be his speech about Islam, given his critical campaign rhetoric and attempt to impose a temporary entry ban on residents of a number of Muslim nations soon after taking office. Saudi Arabia won the first stop, the official said, after promising large U.S. investments - including purchases of hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of military equipment in the next decade and US$40 billion (S$56 billion) from its sovereign wealth fund.

White House advisers insisted Trump was up to speed on the Middle East, having already hosted Arab, Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the White House. A working lunch will follow with new French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump's inauguration sparked thousands of protesters to fill the streets of several European capitals, chaotic scenes that could be repeated during his stops in Rome, Brussels and Sicily.

But as the Republican takes his first steps as head of state on the world stage, his every word, action and tweet will be under the microscope.


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