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Trump's first foreign trip will test staff and stamina

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WASHINGTON: Most US presidents make their first foreign trip an easy-peasy one-day hop to visit friendly neighbours in Canada or Mexico, but not Donald Trump.

Yesterday, the 70-year-old president will embark on an eight-day, six-stop behemoth trip that would test an experienced administration and may push his already weary staff to breaking point.

For bystanders snapping pictures of the motorcade as it whizzes though the emptied streets of a foreign capital, presidential travel looks graceful, maybe even enjoyable.

But behind the scenes is a steeplechase of tension, tears, jetlag and sleep deprivation.

If Mr Trump is looking for a break from the rolling scandals plaguing his White House, foreign travel will offer a change of scenery, but little respite.

The tempo is relentless, and the political stakes could not be higher.

"What makes it especially difficult is the fact that virtually every second of the president's time, every step he takes is carefully plotted," said Mr Ned Price, a former spokesman for Barack Obama's National Security Council.

Mr Trump himself will face the challenge of being far from his staff and usual sources of information.

"For a man accustomed to watching cable news all day, foreign Potus travel will be like sensory deprivation," Ms Loren DeJonge Schulman, another Obama National Security Council staff, tweeted recently.

Despite the best laid efforts, some things just happen.

"Anything - from a hot mic to a protocol gaffe - will have outsized consequences when the president is on foreign soil," added Mr Price. - AFP

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