Trump to Visit Saudi Arabia and Israel in First Foreign Trip

May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel this month, the White House announced on Thursday, making the two countries his first foreign destinations since taking office as he seeks to intensify the war against the Islamic State, rally the region against Iran and negotiate Middle East peace.

Mr. Trump will also visit Rome to meet Pope Francis, completing a tour of the centers of the three major monotheistic religions in what aides said was an effort to seek unity against common enemies. The stops were added to the front of a previously scheduled trip to Brussels and Sicily for back-to-back summit meetings held by NATO and the Group of 7 economic powers.

“Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace,” Mr. Trump planned to say at a ceremony at the White House, according to prepared remarks. “That is why I am proud to make a major and historic announcement this morning and share with you that my first foreign trip as president will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, then the Vatican in Rome.”

Mr. Trump plans to gather leaders from across the Arab world in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and he said he hoped to use the meeting “to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”

“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live,” he added, “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.”

Mr. Trump has been slow to leave the United States in his presidency; President Barack Obama had already taken three overseas trips, visiting a total of nine foreign countries by this point in his tenure. Moreover, his choice of early stops upended recent presidential tradition of visiting Canada or Mexico before venturing elsewhere. Mr. Trump has hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the White House, but relations with both neighbors are tense because of his focus on trade disputes and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.