Worldwide effort set to keep Trump happy on 1st trip abroad

Trump departs on his first global trip Friday, a nine-day visit overseas to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels and a Group of Seven meeting in Sicily. Trump's powerful senior adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, led a West Wing team to craft the agenda, laden with religious symbolism.

Trump's delivery of a speech on Islam before dozens of Muslim leaders gathered in the Saudi capital could prove a far more delicate exercise, however, given the tensions sparked by his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations - now stuck in the USA courts.

Trump's advisers saw it as an opportunity for the United States to boldly reassert itself on the world stage and resume a leadership role that the administration believes was abdicated by President Barack Obama.

For the USA, senior Trump administration officials have sought to dispel concerns that the political scandals swirling around the White House will distract from the trip.

Despite Trump's erratic positions toward the kingdom, Saudi leaders are ready to embrace him with the full red carpet treatment when he arrives this weekend. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described it today as being about uniting people of faith.

Along the way he will meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, King Philippe of Belgium and the leaders of the G7 countries, among others.

With respect to the planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the list of high-tech weaponry includes THAAD missile interceptor system, combat ships, latest jet fighters, attack helicopters, laser-guided bombs, long-range artillery, etc.

They also revived questions about his ability to strike a presidential tone with his foreign counterparts.

And yes, this message will come from the same person who proposed a "Muslim ban" during the campaign and has said things in the past that have been widely perceived as being opposed to the Islamic religion. And at all of Trump's five stops on his first overseas trip, his team has spent weeks trying to build daily downtime into his otherwise jam-packed schedule.

Saudi Arabia wants to seize on Trump's visit to show itself as an earnest partner in the war on terror.

The official said Trump preferred to keep such conversations private, much as he did with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently when he obtained the release of an Egyptian-American humanitarian worker.

"We will work with our allies, particularly the U.S. to make sure that Iran behaves like a normal country", Jubeir said.

Haykal told Asharq Al-Awsat: "Trump's policy is completely opposite of his predecessor Obama".

  • Leroy Wright