Trump Travels Abroad With Unwanted Baggage of Troubles at Home

President Trump

President Trump

Donald Trump will make his first foreign visit this week, eschewing more typical early presidential destinations like Canada in favor of a photo-op heavy swing through Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, before attending next week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

"It's nearly always true that when a president goes on a big foreign trip, especially one that has some important summits ... that that dominates the news and knocks most other stuff out", said Republican strategist Charlie Black.

In a break with tradition, the President will head to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and then Belgium and Italy for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 meetings on his first trip overseas. He stood beside Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman, who had visited Washington in March to meet Trump. Each stop requires some pretty intense briefing and delicate handling, which Mr Trump is not known for.

Saudi officials have told the White House that King Salman will publicly say it's the responsibility of leaders throughout the Middle East to defeat radical ideology in the region, according to another administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the visit. Saudi Arabia is expected to press the United States on Iran and reiterate its position that Iran's activity in the region is the cause of a great deal of instability. Saudi Arabia was not on the list of seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the President's ban.

Jubeir said Trump has been "very clear about the need to push back against Iran". Many presidents have tried to use statesmanship overseas to distract from problems at home, but the Trump brand of diplomacy has some analysts anxious that the nine-day tour of allies in the Mideast and Europe might only make his troubles worse. They've run the gamut from sharing of sensitive national security information with Russian officials to the disclosure that his former national security adviser was being paid by Turkish interests when he made a key foreign policy decision.

Growing ties with Saudi Arabia, which follows Sunni Islam as a state religion, are likely to anger the Shia Muslim world - particularly Riyadh's enemy Iran.

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In Riyadh, he'll have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries and participate in the inauguration of a new centre to fight radicalism.

While today there seems to be a strategic alignment between Saudi Arabia's interests in the region and those of the U.S., mostly centring around controlling Iran's regional reach, there have been low points in this relationship that were brought about by major events.

Riyadh has issued a series of laudatory comments about the Trump administration, which has echoed Saudi concerns about Iranian regional influence.

President Hassan Rouhani faces a tough battle for re-election against hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a much tougher stance against the West and says a 2015 nuclear deal has not improved the lives of the poor.

"Symbols are important and it's a strong message sending to others who are watching", said Dr. David, "A visit by the American President who goes to the Western wall sends a symbol that it is a part of Israel, so for that matter it is important for him to visit".

Following these two stops, he will make his way to Italy to meet with Pope Francis.

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