White House officials said foreign leaders would be more willing to help the United States if disagreements over human rights and other issues were aired in private. They cited the recent release of an Egyptian-American aid worker detained in Egypt, which was negotiated in quiet talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“Obama’s approach was to build support with the Arab public through his Cairo speech,” said Martin S. Indyk, the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution. “Trump’s approach is to deal with the Arab leaders, not speak to their people, which is much more comfortable for the leaders.”
For the first international trip by a president who is something of a homebody, Mr. Trump’s itinerary is ambitious. Aides said he would leave Washington on May 19 and stop first in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before moving on to Jerusalem and then Rome. He will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels that opens on May 24 and then fly to Sicily, where the leaders of the Group of 7 will meet starting May 26.
By this point in his tenure, Mr. Obama had already taken three overseas trips, visiting nine countries. Mr. Trump is upending the recent presidential tradition of visiting Canada or Mexico before venturing elsewhere. He has hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the White House, but relations with both neighbors are tense because of Mr. Trump’s focus on trade disputes and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In one way, he is hewing to tradition. Mr. Trump’s aides said it was important for the president to go to Israel right after Saudi Arabia, both to support a close ally and to begin the process of negotiating a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which Mr. Trump, like Mr. Obama and other presidents before him, has made a major goal of his foreign policy.
The trip was…