President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip, which will take him to five countries in nine days, will unfold against the backdrop of a growing political scandal at home.
And while hopes of deals with the U.S. have world leaders hailing his arrival, foreign governments are unlikely to ignore growing concerns about Mr. Trump’s credibility and judgment.
Mr. Trump, an uneasy international traveler, has an ambitious schedule. He arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday, where he’ll spend two days in Riyadh. On Monday, he’ll arrive in Israel on the first-ever flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He’ll spend Tuesday in Jerusalem and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. From there, Mr. Trump will head to Rome for a papal visit. He’ll then stop in Brussels for the NATO summit. His trip will conclude in Taormina, Italy for the G7 conference of rich nations.
Trump’s distinct efforts to reshape his message into one of tolerance to all religions — including Muslims – will be highlighted during his first stop in Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries. Together they will be treated to a concert, only for men,.
The trip will also thrust the Trump foreign policy doctrine into the spotlight: the administration’s beliefis fully compatible with its efforts to “reengage” with the world.
“The last administration wouldn’t talk to people but lecture them,” a senior administration official told CBS News. “We’re not going to try to embarrass other people but find areas of increased cooperation.”
“Overseas he’s getting a lot of credit. They understand there’s a difference between his rhetoric and action,” the senior administration official said.
Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative Islamic theocracy, was in some ways a surprising first destination for Mr. Trump. Until two weeks ago, Mr. Trump’s campaign website featured a press release calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
The statement, a response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, was referenced by Mr. Trump repeatedly on the campaign trail, and only deleted after a reporter asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer why.
Now, his message will be one of uniting the world against common enemies and demonstrating America’s commitment to Muslim partners, according to the White House.
“He will deliver an inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes, the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world,” National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster told reporters in a briefing last week of the president’s objectives for the trip. “The speech is intended to unite the broader world.”
Mr. Trump’s speech on Islam is,…