Trump, in first trip overseas, to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia

Who needs Silicon Valley when you have the Vatican

President Donald Trump, accompanied by GOP House members, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017, after the House pushed through a health care bill.

After the Vatican, Trump will make stops in Brussels and Sicily for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G-7 meetings. Senior sources told Reuters Trump was expected to meet the Pope on May 24.

During the visits, he will work to unite them in common fight against intolerance, terrorism and malign influence from Iran, senior White House officials said. However, a White House readout of the meeting said Trump "raised his concerns" about the issue and "emphasized the need to resolve the issue".

"My first foreign trip as president of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome", Trump announced on Thursday.

"Our task is not to dictate to other how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism", the president added.

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Recent media reports suggested that Trump may have been snubbing the pope but there was also speculation the president sought to delay his first audience with the pontiff because he has not yet appointed a USA ambassador to the Holy See to accompany him.

Officials declined to say where Trump would meet with Abbas, and also said exact dates and other details of the trip would be provided later.

Senior administration officials, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Saudi Arabia was picked as the first country to counter a narrative that Trump doesn't get along with Saudi officials.

During the Israel visit there will be a discussion about "ways to advance a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians", according to the White House.

"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination", Trump said. Former President Barack Obama visited nine countries by late April 2009, his first three months in office, meeting with allies such as Canada, Britain and Germany.

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The US president will meet the Pope ahead of the G7 summit in Sicily at the end of May.

But many have been surprised by the president's choice for his first destination - Saudi Arabia, a once strong ally which has taken a more aggressive and independent line towards regional issues in recent years. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Francis was critical of Trump's plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

One week prior, Trump had bashed Pope Francis as a "pawn" for the Mexican government and "a very political person" who does not understand the problems of the United States.

'America First' is fully compatible with American leadership in the world and circumstances in the Middle East, but really that have bled over into Europe and [are] globally associated with radical Islamist terrorist groups.

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