Slum pope/billionaire: Pontiff and US president to meet

The stops were added to the front of a previously scheduled trip to Brussels and Sicily for back-to-back summit meetings held by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Group of 7 economic powers.

"Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners, who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the Middle East", he added. Trump becomes the first Oval Office occupant since Jimmy Carter to eschew Mexico or Canada as his first stop overseas, notes CNN, choosing instead a religiously significant trip with visits to the seats of Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism. Abbas noted that demand when he joined Trump at the White House.

The Middle East is to play host to Donald Trump on his first official foreign visit. Francis brought back a dozen Muslim Syrian refugees with him when he went to Greece past year, while Trump has tried to impose a travel ban on people from a half-dozen mostly Muslim nations.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Trump in Washington in March in a visit a senior Saudi advisor called a "historical turning point" in relations.

In Israel, local media said that Trump wants to deliver his main speech at the ancient desert fortress of Masada.

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The Israel visit, which will include meetings with Israeli leaders President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, comes as the Trump Administration has thrown itself at the issue of Middle East peace.

From there Trump will travel to the Vatican, where he will be received by Pope Francis on May 24. Trump, who campaigned on plans to build a wall on the USA border with Mexico, shot back, saying it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question someone's faith.

Mr Trump retorted: "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful".

A G7 summit in Sicily will offer Trump the chance to sit down face-to-face with leaders of the world's largest economies.

  • Sonia Alvarado