Trump says he ‘will be strongly protecting American interests’ during his high-stakes diplomacy tour that features a Islam speech, an audience with the Pope and meetings on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict

Friday, May 19, 2017
By Paul Martin

Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Belgium and Italy
Includes stops honoring Islam, Judaism and Christianity
NATO and G7 summits will conclude the 15,600-mile diplomacy tour
Trump will have an audience with Pope Francis and coffee with the Saudi king
Mid-East peace meetings scheduled with both Netanyahu and Abbas
‘Will be strongly protecting American interests – that’s what I like to do!’ Trump said in a Friday morning tweet that preceded his departure

By David Martosko, Us Political Editor
19 May 2017

The last four U.S. presidents kept their first international voyages confined to North America. Not so Donald Trump, who launches a five-stop diplomacy tour through Europe and the Middle East on Friday that will cover 15,600 miles in the air over the course of nine days.

He will deliver a high-stakes speech about Islam in the heart of Saudi Arabia, meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nemesis Mahmoud Abbas and take in an audience with Pope Francis.

And that’s before a NATO summit and a meeting of the G7 leaders.

Trump said Friday, after a quiet morning at the White House he was ‘getting ready for my big foreign trip.’

‘Will be strongly protecting American interests – that’s what I like to do!’ he said.

The chaos-courting leader of the free world is meeting his crucial first test abroad while facing a chain-reaction scandal of his own making, which exploded when he fired his FBI director last week.

Now, with the eyes of the world upon him, the president will embark on his big trip carrying the baggage of dire troubles at home.

As he tries to calm allies worried about his ‘America First’ message, he’ll be followed at every step by news the appointment of a special counsel to probe his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.

‘Welcome to the White House abroad,’ said Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s former press secretary. ‘This is a great opportunity for the president to change the subject, to make real news. But the downside is that it could be dominated by domestic-style questions. … Every first trip is over-scrutinized. The whole world is watching.’

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

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