NEW YORK – Mrs. Melania Trump has outlined her first major solo trip abroad as US First Lady.
During remarks at a reception for United Nations General Assembly leader spouses in Manhattan Wednesday morning, Trump announced she will visit Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt during her upcoming trip to Africa.
The one-week trip, which begins Monday, October 1st, will see Trump partner closely on this trip with the United States Agency for International Development.
“Each of us hails from a country with its own unique challenges, but I know in my heart we are united by our commitment to raising the next generation to be happy, healthy and morally responsible adults,” said Trump in her remarks on Wednesday.
“This is why I am pleased to be working closely with USAID as I prepare for my first major International trip to Africa. By working with developing countries around the world to help them with their journey to self-reliance, USAID’s work embodies much of what ‘Be Best’ stands for.”
In attendance at the meeting was Mrs. Karen Pence, wife of Vice-President Mike Pence, and Mrs. Susan Pompeo, the wife of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Mrs. Trump has always envisioned her first international trip would be Africa,” said Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s communications director.
Trump said, “I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about (Africa’s) rich culture and history.”
Mrs. Trump took note of the fat that Africa was a place that every modern first lady had visited. Mrs. Laura Bush made programmes promoting health in Africa a major part of her tenure, particularly in her husband’s second term, when she made seven trips to the continent.
Mrs. Michelle Obama visited twice without her husband, in 2011 to South Africa and Botswana, and in 2016 to Morocco and Liberia, taking her daughters along for both trips.
As first lady, Mrs. Hillary Clinton also made two trips accompanied by her teenage daughter, with stops in Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Eritrea, Morocco and Tunisia.
During a meeting with lawmakers in January, it is said President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “s***hole countries” during a discussion of a proposed bipartisan immigration deal, according to officials who were there.
He later denied using such language.
The Trump administration further alienated African nations in March when the President fired secretary of state Rex Tillerson when the nation’s top diplomat was only a few days into what was supposed to be a week-long apology trip to the continent. Mr. Tillerson missed a day of planned meetings, citing ill health, and ultimately cut the trip short.
Trump has an opportunity to help mend a relationship with Africa that might be fractured because of her husband’s remarks.
“To the extent that she is able to help soften that blow for the agency as well as for the country, that would be a helpful objective,” said McBride who was chief of staff for Laura Bush in the East Wing.
“Demonstrating how much USAID and the countries it helps are accomplishing could go a long way, and maybe she is going with the additional intention of mending feelings.”
President Trump, in formal remarks to the General Assembly on Tuesday, did not mention Africa, though on Wednesday morning, he talked about his wife’s upcoming trip.
“We love Africa,” he told reporters outside the UN headquarters, and called the continent “beautiful – the most beautiful part of the world in many ways”.
The trip could be a significant moment for Mrs. Trump, who has taken a lower profile than many other first ladies, and whose Be Best initiative has been relatively modest.