Thursday, 29 June, 2017

Trump aims to strengthen ties in Saudi Arabia visit

Francis Olson | 19 May, 2017, 19:04

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

President Donald Trump will leave Friday afternoon on his first global trip since taking office, a five-country journey to meet with some of the most important figures in the Middle East and Europe.

The trip begins in Saudi Arabia and Israel, two governments that are very much friends of the president, welcoming the change from the previous President Obama.

Referring to ISIL and al-Qaeda, he said: "Saudi Arabia agrees with the United States administration's view in relation to the role of the USA in the world and in relation to uprooting terrorism".

His visit is highly symbolic, as he looks to fix America's relationship with its closest Arab ally.

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"Israel, too, is looking for reassurance".

For Jon Alterman, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Gulf leaders believe that the USA president shared their priorities, including hostility towards Iran.

"Several agreements will be signed, including political agreements. and big economic agreements", he said. Along the way he will meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, King Philippe of Belgium and the leaders of the G7 countries, among others.

He added that the most important message, which would be highlighted during the US-Arab-Islamic summit, was that religion had nothing to do with terrorism, and that all religions repudiate the heinous actions perpetrated by terrorist groups.

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