Trump calls first trip abroad 'home run' as challenges await

G7 leaders sign the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Friday, May 26, 2017.

President Donald Trump on Saturday concluded a nine-day swing through the Middle East and Europe that marked his first foreign travel as president - a significant milestone for a head of state also considered the leader of the free world.

President Donald Trump, flanked by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (left) and Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou, gestures Saturday during an.

US President Donald Trump opted to walk a few hundred yards to the Air Force One rather than jump into the presidential limousine after his speech at the US Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Cohn stressed Friday that the president was simply being critical of the US trade deal with Germany. In Israel and the West Bank, he pointedly did not back America's long-standing support for a two-state solution to the intractable peace process.

The White House had hoped to use Trump's five-stop trip as a moment to reset.

The official, who requested anonymity, added that the trip had "left no one with any doubt about who America's friends are".

"Money is actually starting to pour into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation from countries that would not have been doing what they're doing now had I not been elected, I can tell you that", the president said.

Trump boarded Air Force One without having held a single news conference on the trip - a break in presidential precedent that allowed him to avoid facing tough questions about his foreign policy or the raging controversies involving the investigations into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation.

European officials say they now are convinced Europe will have to go it alone more - something they expected would be the case after Trump was elected.

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Most disturbingly for allies, Trump did not personally affirm his commitment to Article 5, NATO's mutual defense doctrine, after pre-trip signals from the White House that he would do just that.

President Donald Trump on Saturday said his maiden first trip overseas was a "home run" and he vowed to overcome the threat of terrorism, concluding a grueling five-stop sprint that ended with the promise of an imminent decision on the much-discussed Paris climate accord. "The mood he conveyed is you guys are a bunch of freeloaders". At the Group of 7 summit in the coastal town of Taormina, leaders launched an aggressive, behind-the-scenes campaign to get him to stay in the Paris climate accord.

Another stumble came as White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a practicing Catholic, was noticeably absent from the entourage Trump assembled to visit the Vatican. Even Trump's Twitter account was uncharacteristically free of top-of-mind rants - despite the storm that awaits his return the US, with son-in-law Jared Kushner getting pulled deeper into the FBI's Russian Federation probe.

The Times, on one hand, believed that Trump's was "out of step" with his fellow leaders and, on the same day, Trump took to Twitter to state that he did not come to decision on whether the USA would remain in the Paris climate agreement. He also reiterated the US commitment to the North Atlantic alliance.

From the start, he set a new direction.

Summing up the tour on Saturday, Trump's advisers seemed most enthused about the Saudi leg, where he clinched a $110 billion arms deal and forged what one aide described as a "personal bond" with the king. Instead, he reciprocated with a pledge to not publicly chastise the ruling royal family for its crackdown on political dissent.

Trump was lavishly feted in Israel as well, embraced by a prime minister who despised his predecessor and was eager to flatter the new president.

In Europe, however, the scenario was not that of a successful one; nor did it appear to be productive. The photo of his solemn visit to the Western Wall was splashed across the front pages of Israel's newspapers. But he never uttered the words "two-state solution", the longtime US policy plan that would create a separate homeland for Palestinians.

"The Germans are bad, very bad", Trump was quoted as saying during a meeting in Brussels with European Union leaders. Trump hung back, deciding against joining his peers.

  • Hannah Rogers