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Trump takes first foreign trip as US president to Middle East, Europe
Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican, 24MAY. (AP)
US President Donald Trump embarked on a nine day overseas trip, his first since taking office, on 19MAY. The first stop on his tour was Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman, as well as the leaders and dignitaries of other Arab and Muslim-majority nations, including Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey. President Trump delivered a speech calling on the leaders of the Muslim world to unite in confronting and isolating Iran for funding terrorism. The second leg of the trip took President Trump to Israel on 22MAY. There he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but plans for the president to address the Knesset were scrapped, amid fears that some Israeli lawmakers might heckle him. On 24MAY, President Trump departed the Middle East region, and continued his trip in Europe. His first stop on the continent was in Rome, where he met with both Prime Minister Gentiloni and Pope Francis. President Trump then went on to attend the inauguration of a new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and met individually with several more European leaders, including the new French president, Emmanuel Macron. In an address to NATO, Trump called on the allies to increase spending on the collective defense, complaining that many NATO countries “owe” money from years past. President Trump also pointedly avoided endorsing Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on any member is an attack on all. The president’s trip ended in Italy, where he attended the G7 Summit. At the summit, President Trump faced pressure to back a pledge to fight trade protectionism, which he acceded to. However, while all six of the other world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord, Trump refused to endorse the accord, leaving the matter unresolved. Following the summit the president posted a statement to Twitter, vowing to make a final decision on the climate accord by next week. President Trump capped off his time overseas with a visit to the US Naval Air Station in Italy, where, in an address to US troops, he declared the first international trip of his presidency “a home run.”
News summary of events during the week of 20MAY17 – 29MAY17
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe
Jon Alterman, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic and International Studies
“The mood of Article 5, the idea that we are all in this together, is not the mood he conveyed. The mood he conveyed is you guys are a bunch of freeloaders.”
Nicholas Burns, Professor and Former Diplomat, Harvard University
“Every US President since Truman has pledged support for Article 5—that US will defend Europe. Not so Trump today at NATO. Major mistake.”
Henry Farrell, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
“When Trump visited NATO, he dedicated a plaque to the one time that Article 5 has been invoked — when all members of NATO promised to come to the United States’ support after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Fawaz Gerges, Professor of Middle East Studies, London School of Economics
“Donald Trump now accepts the view of Saudi Arabia as a strategic bastion in the Arab and Islamic World. What you are seeing now is that the Saudi-led coalition feels empowered. They are on the offensive. It’s a new era. Everyone has to toe the line and join this alliance.”
Richard Haas, President, Council on Foreign Relations
“It’s as if the trip were staffed by two different teams and were carried out by two different presidents.”
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe
Media: New York Times
Byline: Mark Landler and Michael D. Shearmay
Date: 26 May 2017
TAORMINA, Sicily — “Trump shoves his allies,” read the front page of Belgium’s Le Soir. “Boor in chief” declared Germany’s financial newspaper Handelsblatt. An editorial in Le Monde called him “brutal and heavy-handed.”
President Trump is winning as many headlines in Europe as he did in the Middle East. But as he arrived in the beguiling seaside town of Taormina for a meeting of the Group of 7 countries on Friday, the smooth statesman celebrated in Saudi Arabia and Israel is now being portrayed as the ugly American, trampling America’s friends and trashing the trans-Atlantic alliance.
Media: Wall Street Journal
Byline: Carol E. Lee and Julian E. Barnes
Date: 26 May 2017
In his official debut on the world stage, President Donald Trump showcased two dramatically different negotiating styles, one that awakened optimism among Middle Eastern leaders and one that left some U.S. allies in Europe slack-jawed.
In Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach. He studiously avoided raising issues such as human rights that might have upset his hosts. He showered Arab and Israeli leaders with praise, weapons and personal attention, and even joined a sword dance to prod an ally toward his policy goals.
Media: Los Angeles Times
Byline: Michael A. Memoli
Date: 27 May 2017
Donald Trump made no secret during the presidential campaign of his disdain for America’s trading partners, his skepticism of longtime alliances and his eagerness to refocus U.S. foreign policy on the single-minded pursuit of American security.
That was the largely the president the world got as Trump made his way through the Middle East and Western Europe over the last nine days,
Media: Associated Press
Byline: Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire
Date: 28 May 2017
TAORMINA, Sicily — As he dashed through the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump looked like a conventional American leader abroad. He solemnly laid a wreath at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, had an audience with the pope at the Vatican and stood center stage with Western allies at the annual summits that dominate the diplomatic calendar.
But when Trump spoke, he sounded like anything but a typical U.S. president.
Media: New York Times
Byline: Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger
Date: 29 May 2017
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.
Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s positions on NATO, Russia, climate change and trade, Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”
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