President Trump will consult the Pope
Get out of the chaos in Washington - Why Trump is now going on a world tour
Donald Trump, in his own words, hates traveling abroad - and prefers to relax in his hotel in Florida. But this weekend the new US president is not flying from Washington to golf in Mar-a-Lago as usual. He set out on his first trip abroad: more than 25,000 kilometers, five countries, meetings with dozens of heads of state and government.
While the pressure on Trump in the White House continues to grow in view of the recent scandals, Trump has been traveling since Friday evening. He is meeting with heads of state and government outside the United States for the first time since his inauguration.
His departure: befitting: by helicopter from the White House to the Air Force base Joint Base Andrews, there transfer to the presidential plane "Air Force". At his side is his wife Melania - with sunglasses, high-heeled shoes and a tight red skirt.
The presidential plane took off at around 8:30 p.m. German time.
But maybe the timing isn't too bad to get out of Washington for more than a week. "Trump's goal is certainly also to maintain the reputation abroad that he currently lacks at home and to collect foreign policy points for his reputation at home," says USA expert Prof. Thomas Jäger from the University of Cologne.
►Trump visits five countries in eight days - and the selection is tough. Trump does not travel to Mexico, Canada or visit close European allies like his predecessors. Trump flies to the Middle East first!
Then there is a flying visit to the Pope and the NATO summit in Brussels.
When the US president, who is under extreme pressure, returns from his first trip abroad, he will have well over 25,000 flight kilometers on his watch.
Trump's goal of improving his reputation abroad could also backfire ...
According to CNN, his first trip will once again show whether and how clearly defined the Trump administration's foreign policy strategy is. In addition, Trump must signal abroad that “America first” does not mean “Just America” - if only because he can neither solve the Middle East conflict on his own nor win the fight against ISIS on his own.
► The news website "Foreign Policy" looks at the trip with a skeptical view and quotes from NATO circles: "We are preparing for an impact."
Heads of government were also apparently asked to limit their speeches to under four minutes - due to the American president's low attention span.
►Jäger: "Above all appointments in all these countries there is always the danger that Trump will appear like the elephant in a china shop - because he has repeatedly shown that he is not well informed, cannot correctly assess statements and overestimates his abilities."
When Trump is going where - and why
1st stop: Saudi Arabia
On Saturday, Trump is expected in Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East. The authoritarian ruled Sunni kingdom is of great strategic and military importance for the USA. For Washington, Saudi Arabia is not only important for strategic cooperation in the region, it is also about expanding economic cooperation.
In Riyadh, Trump meets King Salman. A meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council and a summit meeting of supposedly 50 Muslim countries are scheduled for Monday. At this meeting, Trump wants to give a key address on a peaceful vision of Islam.
Against the background of the fight against the terrorist militia ISIS, Trump may also bring an Arab version of NATO into play in Riyadh. But it's also about economic cooperation - specifically, Trump wants to collect investments and orders for the USA and thus score points with his electorate.
2nd stop: Israel
On Monday, Trump will travel to Israel and then to the Palestinian Territories. During the election campaign, the Trump team announced that if they won, they would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The US president now wants to break this promise: The embassy will not be relocated in the near future, said a high-ranking official from the White House before the trip to the Bloomberg news agency. One does not want to endanger the willingness of the Palestinians to hold peace talks, it said.
"It is unusual for Donald Trump to travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel first," said USA expert Prof. Thomas Jäger in an interview with BILD. It is a strong signal to both countries of how seriously they are being taken and at the same time an assurance that they will stand by their side in the conflict with Iran.
Jäger: “The American government has just continued to suspend sanctions against Iran in accordance with the Iran deal. Some new ones have been decided. However, President Trump may also be under an illusion: as announced shortly after his election, he wants to solve the Middle East conflict in a coup d'état over all disputes. However, he will not succeed ... "
3rd stop: Vatican
In the further course of the coming week, the President will visit Europe for the first time, where his first stop will take him to the Pope in the Vatican. Jäger: “How he will show himself together with the Pope is of great importance for the Catholic voters. It is important for Trump to find a common language with the Pope without agreeing. "
The Pope and the US President recently criticized each other, sometimes violently, in connection with Trump's immigration and climate policy. As early as February 2016, at the beginning of the US election campaign, Francis had expressed himself critical of Trump and, with a view to his border guard with Mexico, said that building walls was “unchristian”.
Nevertheless, he wanted to receive the US president "warmly" and not judge him until he had spoken to him personally, the Pope said last Saturday. He will use every little doorway to work out commonalities between the USA and the Vatican.
Meanwhile, former US ambassadors to the Holy See have advised the US president to be humble. The usual Trump boast will not go down well with Francis, Ken Hackett, Vatican ambassador under US President Barack Obama, told National Catholic Reporter. He would "suggest a little more humility" and recommends Trump to listen carefully. The former US ambassador to Malta, Douglas Kmiec, also warns that the importance of the meeting should not be underestimated. Pope Francis could "change the course of time in which we live," said the Republican.
James Nicholson, US Ambassador to the Vatican from 2001 to 2005, thinks the time has come to "do some repair work". "That was kind of a false start," said Nicholson, who was reportedly consulted by the Trump administration in the run-up to the meeting.
4th stop: Belgium & Italy
After the Pope, it goes on to the summits of NATO in Brussels and the G7 group of important industrialized countries in Sicily.
"The US president wants to present himself to the EU, NATO and the G7 as the leader of the West," says Jäger. “But: In a different role than Obama - and not as the one who pays for everything. He has to convey to the voters in the USA that he represents their interests on the international stage at all times and that they come first. "
In this respect, Trump, like Obama before, will continue to insist at the NATO summit that more alliance countries move closer to the goal of spending two percent of their gross domestic product on the defense budget. "Buzzfeed" reports that the avowed NATO critic Stephen Millere will write the president's speech to the defense alliance.
"The truth is that NATO is an organization that was founded many decades ago and that does not fit our current challenges in foreign policy," Miller said last year in an interview with Fox News.
All the latest news about Donald Trump
What could make the visits more complicated:
The US President actually only eats well-known things (steak, well done, with ketchup). Time magazine reports that Trump usually insists on an extra scoop of ice cream and always demands more sauce. That might not go down well with the upcoming state dinners.
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