Trump Travels Abroad
May 27, 2017

President Trump spoke Saturday at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, one of the final events of his first tour abroad since taking office.

After an introduction from first lady Melania Trump, the president began by pointing to a helicopter he could see landing in the distance, wondering if the craft contained Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — or perhaps "Justin from Canada," which is probably a reference to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and not Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.

Trump's speech quickly turned to more serious matters, with a lengthy section about "eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet." He condemned this week's terrorist attacks on concert attendees in England and Coptic Christians in Egypt, vowing cooperation with allies to "confront the shared threat of terrorism."

Toward the end of his speech, the president spoke of honoring fallen American forces on Memorial Day. "There is no peace without those willing to bear the scars and wounds of war," he said. "There is no strength without those brave enough to protect the weak and the people that need protection. And there is no prosperity at home without those willing to shoulder our burdens overseas."

"You are the warriors of freedom," Trump told the assembled troops. "You are the ones who protect the God-given freedoms that are the birthright of every single American child." Watch the entire speech below. Bonnie Kristian

May 27, 2017

President Trump will return to Washington on Saturday after the second day of the G7 summit in Italy, completing his nine-day tour through Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe. Saturday morning, Trump claimed on Twitter that his speech in Brussels Thursday is already producing results:

Trump's description of "payments" into a fund is misleading; NATO countries actually pledged in 2014 to hit a 2 percent of GDP target for their own defense spending. Only five allies have met that goal.

The president also used Twitter Saturday morning to address his decision on the 2015 Paris climate accord:

The other G7 member nations — Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada — are all urging Trump not to exit the agreement made by former President Obama. They reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to the accord on Saturday, but Trump declined to join the declaration at that time. However, the White House on Friday said Trump's views on climate change are "evolving." Bonnie Kristian

May 26, 2017

President Trump arrived in Sicily on Thursday night for a G7 summit on Friday in the coastal town of Taormina with the leaders of Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada. He will start the day with a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the only leader who wasn't with Trump in Brussels for a NATO summit on Thursday. "The day will feature a welcoming ceremony and concert at the remains of an ancient Greek temple, as well as a relentless number of meetings, many of which White House aides are hoping to keep short in order to keep Trump's attention," The Associated Press reports.

The topics of discussion will veer from tackling terrorism, which has broad consensus, to climate change and trade, where Trump is essentially the odd leader out. Migration and North Korea will also be big topics. "It's time for him to have an intimate discussion and understand their issues but, more importantly, for them to understand our issues," economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters late Thursday, en route to Sicily.

The NATO summit ended with Trump scolding his 27 fellow leaders for not spending enough on defense and falling short of voluntary benchmarks, and declining to explicitly endorse NATO's Article 5 pledge of mutual support. The G7 summit might be a little better suited to Trump's skills, G7 experts say. "It is a forum made for Donald Trump's particular style. It is highly informal, highly interactive, and they speak in very colloquial language to each other," said John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto's G7 Research Group. "It is the ultimate lonely hearts club. No one understands how tough it is to have the top job except the peers with the top job in other countries."

Breaking with longstanding tradition, Trump has not held a press conference all trip, and he isn't expected to hold one in Sicily, the last stop on his nine-day tour, either. Peter Weber

May 26, 2017

You shouldn't read too much into body language at international summits of world leaders, but gestures also don't mean nothing. Take the playfully passive-aggressive handshakes between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Brussels. The first one was nothing special — Macron shook hands with Trump, then first lady Melania Trump, and they all went inside the U.S. ambassador's residence. The second one, however, was a doozy.

Here's how Washington Post White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, writing for the press pool, described that handshake: "They shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other's hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening." Maybe Macron had heard about Trump's handshakes and came prepared. But Trump caught on, and in their next encounter, at NATO headquarters, he gave Macron the classic Trump treatment.

But if you watch Macron's entrance leading up to that handshake, you can see him veer from Trump at the last minute and embrace German Chancellor Angela Merkel first, putting Trump off for last. Perhaps Macron was being chivalrous by approaching the woman before the men, and he clearly knows his neighboring German leader more than the American president.

Or, as author J.K. Rowling suggests:

Incendio, as they say. Peter Weber

May 26, 2017

Some observers found it rude when President Trump casually pushed Montenegro's prime minister, Duško Marković, out of the way so he could get to the front row for a NATO photo-op on Thursday, but Marković calls the encounter "an inoffensive situation." Journalists are "differently commenting" on the scene, he added, but "I want to tell you that it is natural for the president of the United States to be in the first row."

So there you go, no hard feelings. Here's the moment Marković was referring to:

Marković is right about U.S. presidents being in the front row, naturally.

Though maybe that wasn't what people found bemusing about Trump's actions. Peter Weber

May 25, 2017

On Thursday in Brussels, President Trump will meet for the first time with leaders of the European Union and NATO, the 27-member alliance he once dismissed as "obsolete." Trump arrived in Brussels on Wednesday, after a stop in Italy, and after meeting at the European Union headquarters with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday morning, Trump will have a private lunch with new French President Emmanuel Macron then gather with fellow NATO leaders.

Trump says he wants to get a NATO commitment to join the fight against the Islamic State, and NATO will almost certainly agree, though some members won't commit military support to the ISIS fight. Trump will also likely ask NATO members to commit to higher military spending, while other nations will be looking for a firm commitment from Trump to support NATO's Article 5 collective-defense pledge. Some 9,000 protesters greeted Trump when he landed in Brussels, and more protests are planned for Thursday, though tight security means the president won't have to confront them. Late Thursday, Trump departs for Sicily and a G-7 summit, the final leg of his overseas trip. You can watch Trump arrive at EU headquarters below. Peter Weber

May 24, 2017

Since President Trump left the U.S. for Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe on Friday, his Twitter feed has been uncommonly restrained and professionally political. Some observers explain this lull by pointing to what The Wall Street Journal referred to Friday as a Twitter "intervention" by White House aides worried the president was putting himself in legal jeopardy, while others speculate that Trump doesn't have access to the same cable news channels abroad that he watches and reacts to at home. Politico has another explanation:

For four straight days, President Donald Trump did not live-tweet the cable shows. He didn't mention his unlikely electoral win. And in visits to two countries where he was greeted with great fanfare, he never once complained about being treated unfairly. Trump's relatively successful swing through the Middle East was due to the fact that, for the most part, he didn't get in his own way. It was also the result of months of careful planning. A decision was made early on to visit a part of the world where Trump is venerated and feared, and to pack his schedule so that he mostly stayed on message and, according to one aide, "didn't have time to tweet." [Politico]

That may change now that he's in Europe, however. The Middle Eastern leg of the tour was carefully orchestrated by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, his deputy Dina Powell, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. The European leg has "not been tightly managed by Kushner, Powell, and McMaster," Politico says, and Trump will be greeted less warmly than in the Middle East. Peter Weber

May 24, 2017

On Wednesday morning at the Vatican, President Trump held a 30-minute private meeting with Pope Francis in his studio; both men brought translators. Before the meeting, a smiling Trump and pope shook hands for the cameras, and Trump said it was "a great honor" to be there. After their meeting, Pope Francis and Trump exchanged gifts — the pope gave Trump copies of his three main papal writings and a medallion by a Roman artist that he called a symbol of peace; Trump gave Francis a first-edition set of writings from Martin Luther King Jr. and a piece of granite from Washington's Martin Luther King. Jr. Memorial — and the pope left for his weekly audience with the public in St. Peter's Square.

"Those arriving for the regular papal audience were almost clueless to the fact that mere feet away from an encounter between the heads of the world's biggest temporal superpower and its biggest spiritual superpower," reports Inés San Martín at Crux. "Big groups dressed for the occasion with matching T-shirts and baseball caps, streaming into St. Peter's Square even as Trump's motorcade was entering the Vatican through a side door known as the 'Peruggino.' This was the pope's one request, and it was done solely so that it wouldn't disrupt those going into the square: Instead of coming in through the famous Via della Conciliazione that leads to St. Peter's Square, the motorcade took a side route ... using an entrance next to the pope's residence, Santa Marta."

Trump and his entourage were also treated to a tour of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel. Peter Weber

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