Trump to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Vatican in first foreign trip

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One prior to departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One prior to departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

President Donald Trump's first foreign trip since entering office will take him to Israel, the Vatican and Saudi Arabia later this month, a senior White House official confirms to NBC News.

The president will end his trip in Brussels with a visit to NATO on May 25, followed by a meeting at the G7 summit in Sicily.

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The president's first foreign trip is typically seen as a signal of the new administration's priorities. So it is no surprise the president will visit Israel, which Trump pledged to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with during his 2016 campaign and has since pledged to help broker a peace deal.

The announcement comes on the heels of Trump's meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday. Trump has said he wants to serve as a "mediator, arbiter or facilitator" to help Israel and Palestine reach a peace accord but added, "Any agreement cannot be imposed by the United States or any other nations."

Senior administration officials told reporters the goal of the trip, especially the Saudi Arabia leg, is to unite the region against intolerance and help devise a long-term fix against radicalization. The objective is to better coordinate efforts to stop ISIS and isolate Iran, officials said.

Officials say the Saudis started the conversation after the election — claiming they saw opportunities with Trump and his vision. The Saudis plan to bring in Arab leaders from around the region - and they indicate this could also be part of a strategy to craft a break through down the road on Middle East peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House in February.

The NATO visit is also a significant stop for the president's first foreign swing. As a candidate, Trump railed against NATO, claiming the United States contributes too much with little in return. But last month Trump said the organization was "no longer obsolete."

Trump has also had a history with Pope Francis who once said of candidate Trump: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." The comment drew a sharp rebuke from Trump.

"If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened," Trump said in a statement last year.

The pope later, after Trump was elected, sent the newly-minted president well wishes and said he was praying that his "decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide."