Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump, dogged by questions at home, makes first trip abroad


Country singer Toby Keith will perform at an all-male event in Saudi Arabia that coincides with President Trump's trip to the Middle Eastern kingdom this weekend.

The AP reported that in addition to the performance, Saudi Arabia had arranged for a packed schedule of events for Trump's two-day trip, which included inviting figures as varied as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, and Fox News host Bret Baier.

Saudi Arabia is looking to assert its regional leadership against Iran by hosting a summit between visiting US President Donald Trump and Muslim leaders from around the world, analysts say.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper, reported a former senior U.S. official saying that previously American officials would have had to "almost land at Queen Alia Airport in Amman to make believe that we were, in fact, coming from Amman" when flying from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

Trump's speech will also have input from his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, McMaster and his deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

He also boasts a wide setlist of highly patriotic tracks about America.

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But the Trump administration, dominated by fiercely anti-Iran sentiment, balanced the sanctions waivers with new measures against Iranian defence officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran's ballistic missile programme.

Leaders and representatives of 55 countries - from the southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei to Africa's Niger and heavyweights including Turkey - have been invited by King Salman for Sunday's summit with Trump.

Apart from Saudi officials, Trump will also meet leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries, including the six nations that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Despite reports that Mr Trump is dreading this trip, his administration says he is eager to press the agenda he campaigned on.

The President embarks on a journey Friday to Saudi Arabia, Israel and global summits in Italy and Belgium, after one of the most tumultuous and damaging weeks any President has had to endure.

Trump will have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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As a candidate he foreshadowed a homebody presidency - touting himself as the "America First" leader who would shun foreign travel to fix the "carnage" in the US.

"My biggest concern is the level of distraction in the administration", at a moment when all attention should be on ensuring the trip goes well, Nephew said.

For Saudi Arabia, the most significant event is the Arab-Islamic-US summit, where it plans to showcase the kingdom's reach and drawing power. USA officials had warned that acting now could end the President's hopes of reigniting the Middle East peace process. The same goes during talks with wary European leaders at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Belgium and heads of G7 big economies in Sicily.

"We have in the commander-in-chief, in the president, truly the master of the deal", he said.

Al-Jubeir said Trump has been "very clear about the need to push back against Iran".

Due to their decades-old alliance, Saudi Arabia relies heavily on the United States for security and other issues.

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