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Saudi Arabia 'Strongly Supports' Trump Policy on PA Peace, Iran Deterrence, ISIS

19 May 2017

Riyadh- It is remarkable that the U.S. president's first foreign visit destination is Riyadh, especially that the USA is the most capable state in managing world affairs.

But a political uproar in Washington over Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, allegations that he pressed Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the subsequent appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties with Trump's campaign threaten to overshadow his trip. And from the White House's perspective, Trump's remarks will have been prepared days, if not weeks, ahead of time.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of fuelling Islamist extremism with its adherence to fundamentalist Wahhabism and funding foreign mosques and schools that spread the ideology, sparking criticism from German intelligence services in a recent report.

"I think it is striking", Elliot Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said of Trump's travel route.

"I think you'll see a return to a more traditional U.S. approach towards the Middle East in contrast to the Obama approach", said Nile Gardiner, a center director at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which advises the American government on important issues in foreign and domestic policy.

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Despite the fact 15 of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, the country was conspicuously absent from a list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were briefly barred from the United States under a failed ban supposedly sparked by terror risks.

In his first few months in office, US President Donald Trump has continuously broken with tradition and thrown convention to the wind. USA policy holds that ownership of the holiest site where Jews can pray, as with the rest of Jerusalem, is subject to Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

The Trumps will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium, and the trip includes an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. He'll close his trip with a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, often-staid affairs that require leaders to be locked in lengthy plenary sessions.

He repeatedly complained that members didn't contribute enough resources, and that the United States was shouldering too much of the alliance's burden.

The desert kingdom, where he is expected to meet dozens of Muslim, Arab and regional leaders, seems an increasingly attractive launch pad for his first ever world tour. Mr. Trump tweeted just hours before his scheduled departure.

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"Many of the leaders, particularly in the part of the world we'll be traveling.are ready for a period of what they view to have been neglect to outright dismissal of their concerns".

In Saudi Arabia, people with knowledge of the planning for Trump's trip say the caterers are planning to offer the president steak and ketchup alongside the lamb and hefty portions of rice on the menu.

"The speech is meant to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America's commitment to our Muslim partners", National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said.

He said Trump's message will be that the battle is not one of religion or culture but "good versus evil".

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