Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Melania Trump announces first overseas trip as first lady


The Trumps are scheduled to return to Washington on May 27.

As the bombshells multiply in Washington, Trump himself appears eager for a change in subject.

On the first leg of the trip in Saudi Arabia, she will hold a panel discussion with Saudi women to ascertain their accomplishments and challenges in the notoriously closed society.

Saudi Arabia hopes to dazzle Trump with a line-up of summits and events this weekend. And we have the G7. We're going to Israel. So it will be very interesting to see how he tries to cross that divide. And experts said domestic issues can't help but to be a distraction. "I think President Trump's standing at home definitely will be a factor in the perceptions of friends and allies overseas, and in how they interact with him". And given Trump's behavior on Twitter, if there's anything he's displeased with, there's every chance that he could create an worldwide incident in 140 characters or fewer.

World leaders, however, are less likely to be interested in the details of Trump's political woes than they are keen to gauge the impact of his "America First" policies on their nations, regions and alliances.

But the most striking moment of Trump's visit to the kingdom will be his speech about Islam, given his critical campaign rhetoric and attempt to impose a temporary entry ban on residents of a number of Muslim nations soon after taking office.

The Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning senior correspondent, Kevin Sullivan joins us for the latest episode of "Can He Do That?" right off the plane from Saudi Arabia - Trump's first stop. What those allies are most encouraged by, he said, was the Trump administration's approach to countering terrorism in all forms.

In Israel, Trump has hopes - though it is still unclear how - of reviving the moribund peace process, meeting both his "friend" Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem. But Trump comes to Israel amid revelations he divulged top secret Israeli intelligence to Russian Federation, and after a diplomatic flare-up over the USA refusal to recognize Jerusalem as wholly within Israeli territory. He is to meet with Pope Francis in Rome, attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, and participate in the G-7 summit in Sicily. Trump faces a delicate task.

Well aware of heightened concerns about terrorism, the Republican hopes to bring back hard commitments from U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. Most US presidents get their feet wet with a quick, easy trip to Canada or Mexico. Matters do not get much easier for Trump in Europe, where he could encounter a frosty reception following his criticisms of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and his aides' ambivalent feelings about the European Union.

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"Any foreign trip is a high-wire act".

During his two days in Riyadh, he will likely seek to strike a contrast with the Democrat Obama, who was widely viewed with suspicion by the Sunni Muslim monarchies of the Gulf.

"The number of minefields here are just remarkable", he said. But if the president is looking for a reprieve, recent history indicates he might be disappointed.

Saudi Arabia adheres to an ultraconservative interpretation of Islamic law.

The person was not authorized to be quoted by name discussing the details of the plan in advance of the formal announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Obama often used such trips to engage in public diplomacy, addressing not just foreign leaders but their citizens in town hall-style meetings where he often took questions.

Catchphrases aside, many questions remain unanswered. Foreign visits usually provide extraordinary press access to the president, with a press conference with foreign leaders at each stop.

White House staff cast the 70-year-old's "friendly but candid" style as an asset in his dealings with foreign leaders.

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