US President Donald Trump has concluded his first official trip abroad as president boasting the nine-day tour that took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium, was “a home run” without elaborating.
Addressing members of the US military at the Sigonella Naval Air Station in the Italian city of Sicily prior to his flight back to Washington on Saturday, Trump also reaffirmed his commitment to ramping up military spending and supporting members of the American armed services.
“But we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,” Trump said in Italy. “Our travels took us to some of the holiest sites in the three Abrahamic religions and to gatherings of both America’s oldest and newest friends. We traveled the world to strengthen long-standing alliances and to form a new partnership among nations devoted to the task of eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet."
The highlight of Trump’s trip was the signing of a $110 billion weapon sales deal with Saudi Arabia, prompting intense criticism from international rights groups and some US lawmakers over the regime’s appalling human rights record and its ongoing military aggression against neighboring Yemen, which has killed and wounded thousands and destroyed the impoverished nation’s major infrastructure.
During the Saudi trip Trump also gave a speech urging members of the Muslim world to help drive out extremism, an address which provided a stark divergence from his inflammatory anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric.
Referring to the massive arms deal, Trump boasted about "tremendous investments in the United States, hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs."
Censuring the deal, however, US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote in an article published last Saturday by Huffington Post that “It appears the Trump administration is counting on the country with the worst human rights record in the region to enforce peace and security in the Middle East," describing the arms sale as “a terrible idea.”
“By selling the Saudis these precision-guided weapons more — not fewer — civilians will be killed because it is Saudi Arabia’s strategy to starve Yemenis to death to increase their own leverage at the negotiating table. They couldn’t do this without the weapons we are selling them,” Murphy emphasized.
During his speech before the American service members in Sicily, Trump thanked the military crowd that stood before him and praised them as “patriots who keep the fires of liberty burning.”
"You are protecting us and we will always remember that," he said, reiterating his desire to boost military spending and promising them his "complete and unshakeable support."
“We’re thrilled to be here right now and we’re getting on that very big plane and we’re heading back to Washington and the United States,” Trump added.