Israel will be one of Donald Trump's first destinations overseas as USA president, the White House revealed on Thursday.
On Thursday, the White House announced that President Donald Trump will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican later this month during his first trip overseas as president. Along with a bilateral meeting, Trump will attend a Gulf Cooperation Council summit while in Saudi Arabia.
The announcement follows Trump's meeting on Wednesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his optimistic pledge to mediate peace efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In Italy, Trump will travel to the Vatican City where he will have an audience with Pope Francis.
Mr Trump complained in an interview with Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia was not treating the United States fairly and Washington was losing a tremendous amount of money defending the kingdom.
The trip is meant to show that Trump's "America First" motto is "fully compatible with American leadership in the world", another official said.
For a president who has come to relish the made-for-TV aspects of his job, perhaps it is no surprise that Donald Trump's first foreign outing will not be to Canada.
In his first 100 days, former President Barack Obama had visited nine foreign countries.
Trump's election has provided the United States with opportunities to "re-engage the world", the officials said, given Trump's perceived unpredictability and that he is "not dogmatic to one school of thought, (rather) open-minded, flexible and opportunistic".
"Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam". They will "discuss a range of regional issues", including "ways to advance a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians", the White House said in a statement.
"The Vatican is about soft power, and this is a language very few people speak in Trump's White House".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited Trump to visit during a phone conversation soon after Trump was elected in November.
Those concerns were compounded when one of Trump's first executive orders was to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries - a ban that federal courts have stayed in part because it may have targeted Muslims in violation of the constitutional prohibition on religious preferences.
In a speech in the Rose Garden at an event on religious liberty, Trump cast his trip as an effort to build cooperation and support between Muslims, Christians and Jews for fighting terrorism. Over the weekend the pope told reporters aboard the plane returning from a trip to Egypt that he wasn't aware of any request from Trump for a meeting.
The senior Administration officials cast the trip as a shift in Trump's foreign policy, away from the calculating isolationism Trump called for in his campaign toward a more internationalist view.