U.S. President Donald Trump begins his first foreign trip

Published: 04:49 GMT, May 20, 2017 |

President Trump embarked on Friday on his first foreign mission since taking office, beginning a challenging nine-day, multistop, multifaceted journey to the Middle East and Europe and leaving behind a capital consumed by investigations and intrigue.

Mr. Trump’s first stop will be Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders. He will later travel to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Vatican City, Brussels and finally Sicily before returning May 27.

An inaugural foreign trip would have been daunting for a diplomatic novice under any circumstances, given the panoply of complicated issues that will confront Mr. Trump, including terrorism, religion, economics, Middle East peace, the war in Afghanistan, the future of NATO and Russian aggression. But it will be only more so given the distractions back home as a newly appointed special counsel begins looking into any ties between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign.

In his final hours before leaving, Mr. Trump was focused on picking a new F.B.I. director to replace James B. Comey, whom he fired last week. While he had hoped to name a replacement before the trip, the president came to the conclusion that he was not ready to decide. Instead, that will be one more question looming over him as he jets across the world.