On Friday, President Donald Trump embarked on his first international trip which began in the Middle East.
The tour began as the controversy surrounding the president’s connections with Russia made headlines throughout the week. While the trip offered the president a bit of a reprieve from the headlines at home, he is still under tremendous pressure abroad to attempt to maintain his image as a world leader.
Giselle Velazquez, a 24-year-old broadcast journalism major who also takes classes at California State University, Los Angeles, disagreed with Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia while his domestic policies seem to target Muslims.
“I think he shouldn’t be traveling to countries – especially where Islam is the main religion – because that’s insane to think that he dislikes Muslims in the U.S. but mingles with them overseas,” she said.
Velazquez added that she believed Trump should focus on what is going on in the United States and fixing the problems that still exist rather than visiting various foreign countries.
“[H]onestly, he should be here trying to figure out how to be an actual president,” she said. “Why is he traveling? He’s taken like six golf vacations already. He’s done vacationing for the rest of his term!”
The trip began as planned with Trump staying on message, and keeping quiet for the most part. He said very little publicly in his meetings with Saudi Arabia, and while he made the occasional faux pas, no controversies arose between him and the government of Saudi Arabia.
While there, Trump also signed a controversial $110 billion weapons agreement with the Saudi government, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said was to help the region deal with “malign Iranian influence.”
After his stay in Saudi Arabia, Trump stopped off in Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There, Trump’s mistakes were a little more apparent than his small gaffes in Saudi Arabia.
Trump reportedly told the press gaggle that he never told Russia that Israel was the source of the intelligence he shared with the Kremlin recently. The fact that no one had accused Trump of giving Russia that information made the remark confusing to the media that was present.
Trump is now expected to travel to Jerusalem and give a speech at an Israeli museum, as well as visit Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial. After his stay in Jerusalem, Trump will visit three more countries on his nine day tour before returning home.
Caroline Salinas, a 19-year-old communications major at California State University, Fullerton, said that Trump traveling abroad gives her a break from the constant barrage of headlines about what Trump has done as President.
“In a weird way, I’ve actually felt more relaxed and safe knowing he’s not here making potentially dangerous decisions,” she said.
She also said that she would prefer Trump to take trips to visit foreign countries rather than have meetings with foreign leaders as well as personal trips to his private country clubs.
“I don’t mind official trips more than I do his trips to Mar-a-Lago,” Salinas added.
Next on the agenda after his Middle East visit, President Trump will visit the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis and his cardinal secretary of state on Thursday. This will be the first meeting between the president and the pope since Trump took office.
The purpose of the meeting has been defined vaguely, but there is a widely held belief that it will focus on building a relationship between the two, as they have clashed multiple times since before the presidential election last year.
The pope was critical of Trump’s idea for a border wall, although he never explicitly named the then president-elect, and has also been outspoken against Trump’s beliefs in regards to climate change and the death penalty. The president was more direct in his statements against the pope, claiming that when ISIS comes to Vatican City, “the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
After his visit to Vatican City, Trump’s endeavor continues on to Brussels to meet with the King of Belgium on Thursday. There, he will also meet with the new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, as well as other prominent European Union leaders. Trump is expected to reaffirm America’s commitment to NATO during these meetings.
The final stop on Trump’s journey is Sicily, Italy, where he will attend the G7 meetings beginning Friday. This is a conference with leaders of the group of seven advanced nations. It is an annual summit between the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
There, the president is expected to reassure the Untied States’ strongest allies that he is a reliable statesman and will continue to work for the good of the world, and not just what he believes is in the best interest of the United States.
On the final day of his initial tour, Trump will speak to American troops who are stationed at the Sigonella naval air station in Sicily on Saturday.