President Donald Trump said Thursday his first foreign trip later this month will include visits to the Vatican, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, stops that his top aides hope will both combat views of the President abroad and build toward Middle East peace.
The stops will come before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 meeting in Italy on May 26.
“Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries,” Trump said Thursday in announcing his trip during a Rose Garden ceremony where the he signed a religious liberty executive order.
“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the Middle East,” Trump said.
First lady Melania Trump “will accompany her husband for the entire trip,” an East Wing spokeswoman told CNN.
Trump, a senior administration official said, feels like accomplishing Middle East peace is “one of the things that he has to try to do” during his presidency and has been “very involved” with “a lot of ideas” during the trip’s planning.
The trip has been coordinated by the White House, in cooperation with the National Security Council and the State Department, another official said.
To date, Trump has left the foreign travel to his top aides and Cabinet members, including Vice President Mike Pence, who has been on two international trips so far, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.