US President Donald Trump is visiting Saudi Arabia in his first foreign trip since taking office.
Saudi Arabia is part of a USA -led military coalition fighting Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq. USA allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia often expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's foreign policy, and outreach to Iran, capped by the controversial nuclear deal.
"The President is going to the Middle East to let our friends know we are back and to let our enemies know we are back", said David Urban, who ran the President's successful Pennsylvania campaign and worked with his transition team, on CNN. After that, the eight-day trip will continue with a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Belgium and a G-7 summit of major industrial nations in Italy.
When things are going bad in Washington, it is nearly always a good idea to get out of town.
CORNISH: NPR's Tamara Keith is about to leave for the trip herself.
Ivanka Trump stepped away from running her clothing brand and from an executive role at the Trump Organization before she joined her father's administration as an unpaid adviser.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CBN News' David Brody will be traveling with the president. President Trump's first trip is much farther from home. President Obama traveled overseas a lot in his a year ago in office, and he was repeatedly, nearly exclusively, asked about the presidential campaign and then-candidate Donald Trump. President Clinton went on trips, and questions about various investigations surrounding him went right along with him. There's really no escape from domestic politics.More news: Tim Duncan back at Spurs practice; Kawhi Leonard at facility on Thursday
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Mr Trump will outline his views of Islam in a speech to Saudi leaders, which intends to "unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilisation". So it's possible that this first leg of his trip could provide something of a reprieve.
Trump is scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas during the trip, as well as Pope Francis, when he travels to the Vatican.
But the backdrop that can upset the trip will be the endless stream of revelations that have plagued his administration since the day in January when he was sworn in.
REX TILLERSON: Bringing people the world over to understand we are in this together. This is a battle about good and evil. Trump plans to deliver a speech on the topic of Islam.
"I'll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith", Trump promised ahead of the trip. And, yes, President Trump is the very same person who proposed a Muslim ban during the campaign and in the past has said things that are widely perceived as being opposed to the Islamic religion. "We are expecting to have nearly 37 leaders, kings and heads of state".
Or, will it be the Donald Trump who a week later stood with the secretary-general of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - an organization he'd earlier declared obsolete - and pledged to work with the decades-old alliance to clean up a messy world? But he still wants its members to pay their fair share, as he puts it - meaning that they should spend a larger share of GDP on their own national defense, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation charter calls for. He's going to push for that. "We have had no hesitation about doing so and we will not have any hesitation about continuing to do so". And one symbolic way that they'll do that is with the unveiling of an Article 5 Memorial, which will memorialize how North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries responded to help America following the 9/11 attack. The centerpiece of the president's visit to Brussels is now a tour of the new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation building, which will open in about a year.
The bad-news stories slammed into the White House in pitiless succession yesterday, leaving President Trump's battle-scarred West Wing aides staring at their flat screens in glassy-eyed shock.