President Donald Trump touted the “extraordinary gains” made in his “historic” first overseas trip as president that “paved the way for a new era of cooperation,” as he concluded the trip during a speech Saturday at the Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily on Memorial Day weekend.
Both the president and first lady Melania Trump spoke directly to U.S. service members and their families stationed at the base as they brought their nine-day tour to a close. Calling his first international trip “a home run,” Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the “safety and security” of the U.S. and to the protection “of those who protect us.”
“Together, civilized nations will crush the terrorists, block their funding, strip them of their territory, and drive them out of this earth.”
“From Saudi Arabia to Israel to NATO to the G-7, we made extraordinary gains on this historic trip to advance the security and prosperity of the United States, our friends and our allies,” Trump said. “And we paved the way for a new era of cooperation among the nations of the world to defeat the common enemy of terrorism and provide our children with a much more hopeful future.”
Melania Trump previewed her husband’s remarks, telling the U.S. service members and their families that “this has been an incredible trip, and great strides have been made.”
“My husband worked very hard on behalf of our country, and I’m very proud of him,” she said. “This trip for me has been very special, and I will never forget the women and children I met.”
The first lady recounted how she met with Muslim women at the all-women General Electric process service center in Riyadh and visited children at both the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem and the American International School in Riyadh. She also shared a story from her “very special visit” to the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome.
“Just hours after leaving, a young boy I spent time with found out he had received a new heart donor,” Melania Trump said. “Receiving that news is a moment I will never forget, and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Mrs. Trump also took a moment to thank the U.S. military members and their families “for the sacrifices you make on behalf of our country.”
“It is because of your selfless commitment that we enjoy the freedoms we have today,” she said. “And to the families who endure time apart or constant moves to the base, your sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.”
The president reaffirmed his wife’s praise and gratitude for the U.S. military members and their families.
“Every single day you protect the safety and security of the American people and provide a symbol of hope, freedom and justice for the world,” Trump said. “You’re the metal spine forged out of the fires of American strength, and you notice how much stronger we’re getting? Can you feel it?”
“We will always support you, and we will never, ever forget you, that I can tell you,” Trump added.
Trump said that his “complete and unshakable support” in the U.S. military was most clearly manifested in the “historic investment in defense spending” Congress’ budget includes. It is of paramount importance, Trump said, that the U.S. military be adequately equipped with the tools and resources necessary to combat the country’s and the world’s most dangerous enemy: radical Islamic terrorism.
“Terrorism is a threat — bad threat — to all of humanity. And together we will overcome this threat. We will win,” Trump said. “But none of what we achieve would be possible without our wonderful military spouses and families. Each of you makes the great sacrifices for our country as well.”
Trump claimed that the overall “safety and security” of the American people was the driving force behind his overseas trip and his efforts to unite Muslims and Christians and Jews in the fight against violent extremism.
“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,” Trump said. “And I am now more hopeful than ever that nations of many faiths and from many religions and from many regions all over, all over, can join together in a common cause.”
Pointing to the “barbaric attack in Manchester” that occurred at an Ariana Grande concert and the Coptic Christians and children in Egypt who were “viciously gunned down in another vile terrorist attack” during his trip, the president said these “murderous attacks grieve our souls” while solidifying the United States’ resolve to exterminate the threat.
“The massacre of innocent young lives underscores the depth of the evil we face and the urgent need for us to join forces to absolutely and totally defeat it,” Trump said. “All children of all faiths deserve a future of hope and peace, a future that does honor to God.”
“Together, civilized nations will crush the terrorists, block their funding, strip them of their territory, and drive them out of this earth,” Trump promised.
Although the the president was received enthusiastically in the Middle East, his reception in Europe was relatively frosty. Nevertheless, Trump praised the foreign leaders and trumpeted the significant progress made in pursuing common goals while standing firm in the United States’ best interests.
While he attended the NATO summit this week, the president reported that the leaders agreed “to improve the burden-sharing among members of our alliance and to further confront the shared threat of terrorism.”
“Other member nations must pay more. The U.S. is currently paying much more than any other nation, and that is not fair to the United States or the United States taxpayer,” Trump said. “So we’re working on it, and I will tell you — a big difference over the last year. Money is actually starting to pour into NATO from countries who would not have been doing what they’re doing now had I not been elected.”
“And we’re behind NATO all the way, but we want to be treated fairly,” Trump added. “All of us will be more safe and secure if everyone fulfills their obligations the way they’re supposed to.”
Some questions still hang over Trump’s head as he concludes his first overseas trip as president, including whether or not he will fulfill his campaign promise and pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. While in Europe, the heads of the G-7 nations pressured Trump to remain in the agreement. The president announced via Twitter Saturday that he would reach a decision regarding the agreement next week.
But overall, Trump insisted that he never forgot the overarching purpose of his tour and the meetings in which he participated.
“That is why I knew I had to conclude my trip right here in Sigonella with the dedicated service members who make the future so bright, so proud, because I am so proud of the future you’re going to have,” Trump said. “The men and women of the United States military have been the greatest force for peace and justice in the history of the world. I want you to know that you have a commander-in-chief who will never, ever forget — never, ever — you will always be remembered.”
“I am proud to be with you today as your commander-in-chief. I am honored to have had this time to spend with you,” Trump concluded. “I am excited for the great adventures and achievement that all of us will accomplish together.”