Economy

Trump to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel & Vatican in first overseas presidential trip

Trump to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel & Vatican in first overseas presidential trip

In a Rose Garden ceremony to sign an executive order easing tax rules against religious organizations' participation in politics, Trump said that "tolerance is the cornerstone of peace".

Trump's morning audience with Francis will come just days before he is scheduled to attend a G7 summit meeting in Sicily.

Trump met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday, and will meet with him again during the trip, the White House said.

After his trip to Israel, Trump will hop on over to Rome and Vatican City to meet Pope Francis, rounding out what in the end will resemble a tour of the Abrahamic religions.

White House officials said Mr Trump will aim to show his "America first" policy is compatible with the United States being a global leader.

The White House said on Thursday that Trump has accepted the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia later this month.

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

Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, he is likely to receive a warm welcome in both countries. The president will "lay out some terms for what we see as a peaceful future in that region", one USA official was quoted by The New York Times.

Francis hasn't commented on Trump's presidency other than to say, on the day of his inauguration, that he'd take a wait-and-see approach.

Officials in Washington are reporting that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are conducting negotiations for a multi-billion-dollar arms deal.

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 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.

Trump has already held meetings with high ranking officials from both countries since taking office. Trump's visit will be historic "by every measure", Jubeir said, noting that Saudi Arabia is the indispensable partner for Trump's regional goals, in addition to being a key USA investor and trading partner.

From Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump will travel to Israel - leaving open the possibility of an additional stop in the West Bank.

"The Vatican is about soft power, and this is a language very few people speak in Trump's White House". Abbas was speaking at a reception that his diplomats organized for U.S. Middle East scholars and Jewish and Arab American community leaders.

On the other hand, the official channel Al-Arabiya and the state agency SPA stressed that the visit of May 23 to Riyadh could mark the beginning of the construction of the new foundations to combat terrorism.