US President Donald Trump will visit the centres of the world's three main monotheistic faiths as he embarks on his first foreign trip since taking office.

The Republican announced on Thursday (4 May) that he will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel before flying to the Vatican to meet the Pope.

Trump will also attend a Nato meeting in Brussels on 25 May and the G7 summit in Sicily the following day.

A US president's first foreign trip often carries as much symbolic significance as substantive meaning, and Trump is expected to use the trip to underline his priority of fighting Islamic extremism in the form of Isis and others.

Announcing his trip from the White House's Rose Garden, Trump said he will look to unite all the religions to face this terrorist threat.

"Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace," he said, reports the New York Times.

"That is why I am proud to make a major and historic announcement this morning and share with you that my first foreign trip as president of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome.

"Our task is not to dictate to others how to live but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East."

Palestine is priority

Trump will also look to rally the region against Iran and negotiate a peace deal on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

His announcement came a day after he met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

A US official, who declined to be named, told Reuters part of the rationale for the trip was reversing the image that Trump was anti-Muslim.

"We thought [going to Saudi Arabia first] was very important because obviously people have tried to portray the president in a certain way," the official said.

This perception follows from Trump's travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries that has been temporarily blocked by the courts until a Supreme Court hearing.