Written by Josephine Bush
For the first time as president, Donald Trump set out on a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe. Beforehand, Trump had hosted several foreign leaders at the White House. Nevertheless, this was his first time leaving the United States as President. During this trip, Trump met with leaders of the world’s three primary monolithic religions.
Saudi Arabia has long been the US’ closest Arab ally and so, Trump was greeted warmly by King Salman. While he was there, Trump gave a speech about combatting extremism, saying that it was a not a fight between various internal religious sects, rather one between merely “good and evil.” His speech also focused on his stronger alliance with Saudi Arabia and taking a step back from any partnership with Iran. The history that US shares with Iran is bleak; however, Obama previously made diplomatic inroads. It appears under the Trump Administration, the strongest tie will continue to be with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, almost exclusively. Trump’s speech also focused on the Syrian crisis - urging the Middle East to take charge themselves, and not wait for US intervention. Conclusively, the two nations signed a $400 billion agreement to invest in either country. This is intended to create jobs and stability within the Middle East.
Trump’s next stop was with Israel - another long-term American ally also located within the Middle East. While in Israel, the US President continuously announced that Palestine was ready for peace. However, it is vague and unclear as to what sort of solution Trump deems a viable option. It appeared to have been staged and inappropriate- as if the negotiation between Israel and Palestine should be treated like a business agreement. During Trump’s time in Israel, he visited what is commonly known as the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall. This was unique because no other sitting President has visited it, due to the fact that Jerusalem is not recognized as the capital city of Israel.
Trump’s final stop of his religious tour was Vatican City, where he met the Pope for the first time. Trump was given a tour and at its conclusion, he met with the Pope. Formerly, Pope Francis and Trump had exchanged negative comments via social media; however, they both said that they were not interested in fighting. During a speech, the Pope continued to say that walls do not offer a real sense of security and ultimately, all fail. The Pope has consistently said that it is Christian to build bridges rather than walls. Pope Francis also gave Trump a copy of his encyclical, Laudato Si, on climate change. So, although no apparent fighting went on during this meeting, it remains clear where either leader differs in their beliefs regarding key issues such as immigration and climate change.
Business in Brussels
While in the capital of the European Union, Trump focused on NATO and how many of the member nations do not abide by the recommendation of dedicating 2% of their GDP to NATO. During this trip, he requested that NATO members step-up and to stop relying on the United States for military funding. Trump also briefly noted that Brexit worries him, in terms of the job market.
Collectively, this meeting distinguished the values, goals and policies held by Europe and by the new America, under the Trump Administration. Not soon after giving a speech promoting religious tolerance and investment in youth alongside Barack Obama, Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel said that America is no longer a friendly alliance to Germany. The relationship between Germany and the United States has been a significant alliance that dates back to the conclusion of the second World War. Considering this “non-alliance” with Germany is unprecedented in the modern history of the United States, it will be very interesting to witness how either State interacts with one another from this point forward.
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