Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Trump's First International Trip as President: Saudi Arabia, Israel


After meetings with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, the president has been pushing the prospect of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"So many young, handsome innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life", Trump said, echoing the theme he presented during his meetings with Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump "a true friend" to Israel and expressed optimism about the president's role in the Middle East peace process.

"The majority of the people of Israel, unlike the media, they love us, so we tell them how you are courageous and they love you", Sara Netanyahu said to Trump and his wife.

"I never mentioned the word or the name Israel", he told reporters.

If President Donald Trump concludes his first global trip by saying he made history "even while sitting on a plane", no one can say he's wrong.

"They're all saying I did, so you had another story wrong".

Trump repeated his belief that together with Israel and Muslim partners such as King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the "menace of extremism that has spread in too many parts of the Muslim world" can be eradicated.

At a summit in Riyadh yesterday, Trump called on Arab and Muslim leaders to take the lead in combating Islamist militants, urging them to "drive them out of this earth". But obstacles have emerged that may complicate the relationship between the White House and the Knesset.

Trump, Abbas stress longing for peace through negotiations
He became the first sitting United States president to visit the site in the east of the disputed city. Trump will meet Pope Francis , with whom he has clashed repeatedly, today morning at the Vatican.

Netanyahu played down what has appeared to be a violation of an intelligence-sharing agreement with his country, saying U.S.

In a departure from his predecessor Barack Obama who negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, Mr Trump criticised the Iranian regime, accusing Tehran of offering a "safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed" for terrorists.

"Never mentioned during the conversation", he said, as Netanyahu smiled in consternation.

Following a tumultuous ten-days for the president where he faced calls for impeachment from some democrats for sharing classified information with Russian Federation and a deepening crisis over his relationship with former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, Mr Trump's team has been keen to cast Mr Trump as a credible global leader as he prepares to make a series of visits to potentially politically charged regions such as Israel, the Vatican and Brussels. Wearing a black skull cap, he became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, the most holy site at which Jews can pray.

Trump's visit to Jerusalem has been laden with religious symbolism. He also toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be where Jesus was crucified and the location of his tomb.

The visit raised questions about whether the US would indicate the site is Israeli territory.

The White House struggled to answer the question. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared the site part of Israel, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday dodged.

During his election campaign, Trump had expressed views that seemed to fit neatly with those of the right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu favouring expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a tough line towards Palestinian aspirations for independence.

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