Trump wraps overseas trip with thanks to US troops, standing firm on terrorism, climate change concerns
May 27, 2017
President Trump on Saturday in Italy thanked overseas U.S. troops, in concluding his trip through the Middle East and Europe in which NATO, radical Islamic terrorism and climate change emerged at key issues.
“I think we hit a homerun no matter where we went,” said at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “And now we’re getting on that very big plane and heading back to Washington. I can think of no better way to conclude our first foreign trip than to spend time with you. … We will always support you. And we will never, ever forget you.”
Trump also said he leaves amid new hope among nations on “eradicating the terrorism that plagues humanity.”
Earlier in the day, Trump declined to join six other world powers Italy in affirming the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Trump, who during his presidential campaign once called climate change a “hoax,” made the announcement on Twitter ahead of the other nations pledging their commitment to the deal at the G-7 Summit in Taormina, Italy.
The president had been under heavy international pressure during the trip to affirm the United States’ commitment under the Paris agreement to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants believed to be warming the earth to harmful levels.
While at the Vatican, Trump received from Pope Francis a copy of his 2015 papal treatise that links fossil fuels to global warming.
And he was pressured about the climate deal after leave the Vatican, when attending NATO and the European Union meetings in Brussels with other world leaders.
Trump began his trip Saturday in Saudi Arabia before going to Israel and three European countries.
He was welcomed at the Saudi airport by King Salman in a royal, red carpet ceremony.
The trip has since gone off without a major misstep, as Trump tries to build and strengthen international alliances to fight radical Islamic terrorism and the threat of Iran and North Korean building a nuclear weapon.
Prior to Trump’s arrival, the pope had publically disagreed with some of the president’s plans and policies, inlduing ones to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and to impose a temporary travel ban on several mostly-Muslim nations.
“I won’t forget what you said,” Trump told Pope Francis at the end of their roughly 30-minute private meeting Wednesday, in the Vatican, in Rome, the second stop of the presidential trip.
Trump’s speech Sunday in Saudi Arabia came one day before a bomb outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 people. The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that also injured dozens of others.
“This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil,” Trump said in the speech to leaders of Arab nations, the cradle of the Muslim religion.
Trump returns to the White House under continuing investigations into whether his inner circle colluded with Russia to influence his winning 2016 presidential campaign or before he took office in January.
Backing out of the climate accord had been a central plank of Trump’s campaign, and aides have been exploring whether they can adjust the framework of the deal even if they don’t opt out entirely.
Among the G-7 leaders who leaned heavily on Trump to stay in the climate deal was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said: “We put forward very many arguments.”
During his trip, Trump also touted a renewed commitment by NATO’s member to spend more on defense.
“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” he said.
Trump was referring to a vow by NATO countries to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. Only five of NATO’s 28 members meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.
There is no evidence that money has begun to “pour in” — and countries do not pay the U.S. or NATO directly. But Germany, for instance, has been increasing its defense spending with the goal of reaching the 2 percent target by 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
TRUMP ADDRESSES US TROOPS IN ITALY AHEAD OF MEMORIAL DAY
‘We will always support you. And we will never, ever forget you.’
May 27, 2017
President Trump wrapped up his overseas tour by personally thanking US troops stationed at the Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily.
“I can think of no better way to conclude our first foreign trip than to spend time with you,” Trump said. “We will always support you. And we will never, ever forget you.”
President Donald Trump ignored the custom of holding a press conference to conclude his trip abroad, choosing, instead, to celebrate his successful trip with a speech to the troops.
“I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,” Trump said as he spoke to members of the military at a Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, celebrating his first trip overseas as president. “I can think of no better way to conclude our first foreign trip than to spend the time with you right here.”
Trump indicated that his biggest goal of the trip was to rally the world against radical Islamic terrorism.
“We traveled the world to form a partnership among nations devoted to the tasks of eradicating terrorism that plagues our planet,” he said.
The president recalled the terrorist attacks in Manchester and Egypt that targeted innocent women and children as well as a suicide bombing in Indonesia that killed three police officers. He said that attacks would only steel the resolve of world leaders to fight terrorism.
“Together, civilized nations will crush the terrorists, block their funding, strip them of their territory, and drive them out of this earth,” Trump said.
The president arrived on the base to a raucous crowd and shouts of “USA! USA! USA!” as the Air Force One movie soundtrack played in the background.
First lady Melania Trump introduced her husband, calling the journey an “incredible trip.”
“My husband worked very hard on behalf of our country, and I’m very proud of him,” she said.
Trump recalled his commitment to a “peace through strength” foreign policy.
“That’s what we’re gonna have. We’re gonna have a lot of strength and a lot of peace,” he said.
The president and the first lady return to Washington, DC, Saturday evening, as they plan to recognize Memorial Day on Monday.
After coming to an easy agreement on a statement denouncing terrorism, the G7 leaders were unable to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump into ratifying the 2015 Paris climate agreement that would significantly reduce U.S. energy independence.
“The issue of the Paris climate accord remains suspended, as President Trump is engaged in internal reflection on the matter,” the G7 leaders stated in a press release.
On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted in the first person that he will make his final decision on the matter sometime next week.
The U.S. President seemed intent on keeping the issue of Islamic terrorism front and center, refusing to allow the more peripheral and controversial matter of climate change to derail his priorities for the meeting.
By many accounts, President Trump made a strong showing in his first meeting with heads of state.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who chaired the second and final day of the G7 summit, noted that differences of opinion with President Donald Trump “emerged quite clearly in our discussion.”
At the same time, after two days of deliberations, the G7 leaders released a surprisingly compact set of accords, fruit of “more authentic” discussions with the presence of the new U.S. President, Gentiloni said.
“Discussing is always useful. I think that all of the leaders present, starting with President Trump, appreciated the informality with which one in this format… can discuss things calmly and freely.”
The American people chose Trump, he added, “so we are coming to terms with this choice.”
The President faces both internal and external pressure to yield to the climate change crowd, beginning with his daughter Ivanka and economic advisor Gary Cohn.
According to Cohn, the President’s views on the issue are evolving, and he is “leaning to understanding the European position.”
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