Trump to embark on maiden visit to Vatican, Israel, Saudi Arabia

"He is not dogmatic", the first official said of Trump.

The trip will inject Trump into the thorny quest for Middle East peace, a prospect that has proven elusive for Trump's predecessors.

The White House said previously that Mr Trump would travel to Belgium and Italy for the G7 summit before Memorial Day.

Trump could reverse a trend of increased travel for presidents in the last 50 years or so.

Despite this and a so-called "Muslim ban" being put in place by Trump, Gulf states appear to have warmed to the new president.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Trump's visit would send a clear message that the US harbors no ill will toward Muslim countries, which he said was a misconception spread by Iran and extremists like the Islamic State group.

A senior administration official said the planning started shortly after the elections after being approached by Saudi Arabia wanting to reset warm relations with the U.S. Administration.

There is also a clear interest among top aides in the White House to counter the view Trump has cultivated overseas.

Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia will be historic "by every measure", said that country's foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

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Three administration officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss travel aims, said the overarching goal of the trip was to demonstrate an America "regaining strategic confidence" in the world. The US leader will meet the pope in the morning and later see the Vatican's prime minister, Cardinal Secretary of State...

The official said that while "conventional wisdom" would tell you that Trump is "weak on alliances", the president is in fact "strong on alliance", provided allies pay their fair share toward defense.

The two got off to a rocky start when, during the US presidential campaign, Francis said anyone who wants to build a wall to keep out foreigners is "not Christian".

Asked if they may have leaned too far in adopting the views of their Sunni interlocutors and if they may have missed that the situation with Iran is somewhat more complicated, the first senior official said that Iran supports Hezbollah and sends weapons to support the Houthi rebels.

The officials did express optimism that the trip was a unique opportunity, "a moment in time", to rally Islamic states in the region against radicalism and "bring them to the table" to form new partnerships.

Gas up Air Force One, President Trump is taking his first foreign trip since taking office.

Every US presidents since Jimmy Carter has been to either Mexico or Canada, but both of these neighbours have a troubled relationship with Trump.

But behind the scenes, some of the president's top aides - including son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner - were planning a more robust itinerary meant to send a message about the kind of leadership Trump would show on the world stage.

The President also met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday, but gave no details of how he would revive long-stalled peace talks.

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