Trump to visit Saudi Arabia, meet Gulf, Muslim leaders
- Author: Leroy Wright May 06, 2017,
May 06, 2017, 4:37
The visit will be historic "by every measure", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a statement.
Even as he has described himself as a non-interventionist unwilling to be "the policeman of the world", Trump has recently shown he is willing to engage militarily when he sees fit.
A G7 summit in Sicily will offer Trump the chance to sit down face-to-face with leaders of the world's largest economies.
Senior administration officials said Mr Trump chose Saudi Arabia as his first stop to show his commitment to improving U.S. relations with the Muslim world.
Jubeir explained that Trump's visit to the capital Riyadh will include a bilateral conference, a meeting with Arab Gulf country leaders and another meeting with leaders of other Muslim countries.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran after protesters stormed the Kingdom's embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad on January 2, 2016 in response to Riyadh's execution of Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
U.S. Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders called out critics of Israel's alleged human rights violations this week, noting that other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt don't receive similar attention for their mistreatment of women and prisoners.
"Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam", said Trump, who has frequently been accused of fueling Islamophobia.
Trump will be visiting Palestine as well, where he would seek to advance the peace process and "unlock the potential of the Palestinian economy".
"We'll approach it, I think, with a lot of humility", a senior administration official told reporters during a preview of the meeting.
The trip was an attempt to unite three of the world's leading religious faiths in the common cause of fighting terrorism, reining in Iran, and "unifying the world against intolerance", White House officials said May 4.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by GOP House members, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017, after the House pushed through a health care bill.