As President Donald Trump sets off for his first overseas trip on Friday, foreign leaders have been primed on the best way to interact with the him.
The New York Times reported on Friday that ahead of Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, foreign dignitaries have been sharing tips on the best way to deal with the president. A set of clear rules have emerged, according to the report: Keep everything short; don’t assume Trump knows the history of a country, and make sure to compare him favorably with former President Barack Obama.
Perhaps most importantly, leaders were reminded to praise Trump for winning the electoral college in November, something Trump has repeatedly stressed months into his presidency. Foreign leaders were also urged to try and ignore comments said during his presidential campaign and to stay “in regular touch” with the president, according to the New York Times.
Trump travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday, followed by Israel and the Vatican, the centers of the world’s three predominant religions. The trip will last for nine days, although Trump is reportedly less than enthusiastic over its length. Trump will also visit Belgium and Italy.
The trip has taken on new significance after Trump fired last week former FBI Director James Comey, which was followed by a series of bombshells reports linking the Trump campaign to Russia. Trump allegedly tried to persuade Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has possible ties to Russia. The News York Times reported on Thursday that Comey was once so determined to hide from Trump that he attempted to camouflage himself amid curtains to avoid the president’s gaze.
According to the Associated Press, Trump's team has also tried to soothe the president's concerns over "time zone changes, the unfamiliar hotels, the local delicacies." Officials expressed concern that the strain of the trip could mean Vice President Mike Pence will take on foreign travel in the future.
Eyes will be on Trump when he visits Saudi Arabia, which has a questionable track record when it comes to human rights. Women in Saudi Arabia are barred from driving, for example, and the country requires women to be accompanied by a male guardian when they go outside. Trump is expected to unveil a multi-billion dollar arms deal while in the Gulf country, which is currently leading a coalition of countries in a war against Yemen.
Amnesty International warned on Friday that “The United States continues to fuel serious human rights violations that have caused devastating civilian suffering in Yemen, through arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.”