President Donald Trump will embark on his first foreign trip as commander in chief on Friday amid a string of Russia-related controversies that have beseiged the White House this week.

In an eight-day sprint to five cities, Trump will meet with Isreali leaders after reports that the intelligence information he admitted to sharing with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting, was provided to the U.S. by Israel.

Meetings with NATO and the G7 coalition of world leaders, to be held in Brussels and Sicily respectively, will place Trump before a diplomatic community that has repeatedly raised concerns about his willingness to engage freely with Russia.

The President also will travel to Saudi Arabia to deliver an address on Islam to Muslim leaders and to the Vatican, where he will meet with Pope Francis.

Trump’s first trip abroad will likely “be the most closely watched presidential trip since former President Richard Nixon went to China,” in 1972, said former Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat, who now serves as chairman of the Long Island University Global Institute.

“In his first foreign trip, President Trump can’t wing it,” said Israel, who as a member of the House armed services and appropriations committees traveled abroad on several U.S. diplomatic missions. “Now more than ever with so many challenges around the world you need steadiness rather than improvisation in foreign policy, so the President is going to have to resist the temptation to go off script.”

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Senior White House officials have billed the trip as an “opportunity to move forward [Trump’s] positive agenda for foreign policy,” while political strategists have described the trip as a way for Trump to shift focus away from the growing list of controversies surrounding his fledgling presidency, including allegations that he asked former FBI Director James Comey to dismiss a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties with Russia.

Trump will first land in Riyadh where a senior White House official told reporters on Wednesday he will deliver a “very blunt” address on Islam and the fight to stop the Islamic State terrorist group.

Photo Credit: Newsday

“He’ll talk about what unites us in uplifting terms, but he’ll also be very blunt in talking about the need to confront extremism,” the senior aide said.

Trump risks alienating allies in the Middle East if his rhetoric is deemed as combative toward Islam as a whole, said Paul Fritz, a political science and international relations professor at Hofstra University.

“The stakes are very high here . . . given his rhetoric and policies that have clearly caused a perception of anti-Muslim bias, if the speech isn’t on point, he’s just going to feed into that perception,” Fritz said.

The president will then head to Israel for two days where he will hold separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Isreali officials have dismissed reports that the meetings will be marred by tension over Trump’s disclosure of information to the Russians.

After meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Trump will round-out his trip with a blitz of meetings that includes a gathering of the NATO peacekeeping alliance he had criticized on the campaign trail, and the annual G7 summit in Sicily.

Trump will joined on the trip by first lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and several of his top advisers including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump.

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With Emily Ngo

Trump’s Foreign Itinerary

Friday, May 19

Air Force One departs enroute to Saudi Arabia

Saturday, May 20

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Arrives in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh to meet with King Salman, attend a banquet and dinner with First Lady Melania Trump hosted by the Saudi royal family.

Holds bilateral meetings with the King and two crown princes, before appearing at a “signing ceremony” for “several agreements that will further solidify U.S.-Saudi security and economic cooperation.”

Sunday, May 21

Holds meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders and Gulf states leaders.

Delivers address on Islam to leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries.

Participates in the opening of a new center to fight radicalism followed by a Twitter forum with Saudi youth.

Monday, May 22

Travels to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Visits Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where he will lay a wreath and later deliver remarks at an Israeli museum.

Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by dinner where the leaders will be joined by their wives.

Tuesday, May 23

Meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

Visits the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, May 24

Meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Meets with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella.

Thursday, May 25

Meets with Belgium’s King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Meets with European Union and European Council officials at the E.U’s headquarters in Brussels.

Meets with the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Delivers remarks at unveiling of NATO memorial.

Meets with NATO leaders joined by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Friday, May 26

Attends the G7 Summit in Sicily.

Meets with Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Attends a concert of the La Scala Philharmonic and dinner hosted by Italy’s president.

Saturday, May 27

Speaks to American and allied troops before departing to Washington D.C.

Source: The White House

Trump’s Foreign Itinerary

Friday, May 19

Air Force One departs enroute to Saudi Arabia

Saturday, May 20

Arrives in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh to meet with King Salman, attend a banquet and dinner with First Lady Melania Trump hosted by the Saudi royal family.

Holds bilateral meetings with the King and two crown princes, before appearing at a “signing ceremony” for “several agreements that will further solidify U.S.-Saudi security and economic cooperation.”

Sunday, May 21

Holds meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders and Gulf states leaders.

Delivers address on Islam to leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries.

Participates in the opening of a new center to fight radicalism followed by a Twitter forum with Saudi youth.

Monday, May 22

Travels to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Visits Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where he will lay a wreath and later deliver remarks at an Israeli museum.

Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by dinner where the leaders will be joined by their wives.

Tuesday, May 23

Meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

Visits the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, May 24

Meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Meets with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella.

Thursday, May 25

Meets with Belgium’s King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Meets with European Union and European Council officials at the E.U’s headquarters in Brussels.

Meets with the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Delivers remarks at unveiling of NATO memorial.

Meets with NATO leaders joined by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Friday, May 26

Attends the G7 Summit in Sicily.

Meets with Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Attends a concert of the La Scala Philharmonic and dinner hosted by Italy’s president.

Saturday, May 27

Speaks to American and allied troops before departing to Washington D.C.

Source: The White House