(Washington, D.C.) — No one would have predicted that the candidate who called for a “Muslim ban” would, upon becoming President of the United States, make Saudi Arabia the first stop on his first international trip. Or that he would turn the trip into an opportunity to meet with dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders from all over the world.
That said, the President is absolutely right to work hard on building American relationships and alliances throughout the Muslim world. He’s also right to deliver a major address on the threat posed by radical Islamism and the need for all Muslims to strongly oppose and counter the radicals.
To his credit, he will then travel to Israel — and specifically to Jerusalem — to strengthen U.S.-Israeli ties, and explore ways of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Then he heads to Rome to meet with the Pope, and onward to meet with NATO leaders.
No other President has specifically designed a foreign trip — especially his first — to reach out to Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders. In the days ahead, I hope to provide analysis of his trip, his meetings and his speeches. For now, let’s be praying for the President’s safety and for the trip to have a positive impact.
Here’s what we know so far.
- Friday: President departed Washington
- Saturday: Arrive in Saudi Arabia, meet with the King, dinner with royal family
- Sunday: President to meet with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; meet with Islamic leaders from all over the world, including the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Indonesia; and deliver major address on threats to the region from radical Islamists
- Monday: President arrives in Israel, meets with President Reuven Rivlin, meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu, visits the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has dinner with the Netanyahus
- Tuesday: President meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, lays a wreath at Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, and delivers a major address at the Israel Museum
- Wednesday: President meets with Pope Francis in Rome, then flies to Brussels
- Thursday: President participates in NATO Summit.
- Friday: President is in Sicily, Italy, participating in G7 Summit
- Saturday: G7 Summit, then return to Washington
ANALYSIS BY MIDEAST EXPERTS:
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