LONDON — Even among the many norm-shattering, unpredictable moments that marked President Trump’s tenure, his approach to foreign travel and high-level diplomacy stood out.
In the annals of the presidency, Trump made his mark on the world stage, often breaking with tradition and shaking up an otherwise staid ethic of hobnobbing, handshakes and scripted remarks, showing little fear of snubbing U.S. allies or appearing to cozy up to adversaries.
Long after the final hours of the Trump era have ticked down, world leaders will find it hard to forget the tone and tenor of his diplomatic excursions.
Here is a look back at some of Trump’s most memorable trips abroad.
Trump broke with tradition by visiting Saudi Arabia for his first foreign stop as president, rather than one of America’s neighbors, Canada or Mexico.
He was greeted in Riyadh, the capital, by King Salman and soldiers on horseback before taking in a traditional sword dance at Murabba Palace, ahead of a royal dinner.
During the trip, Trump marked the opening of a Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology alongside Salman, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and first lady Melania Trump. The group huddled around a decorative orb in a dimly lit room, placing their hands upon it, for a group photo — much to the bafflement and intrigue of people around the world left to make sense of the widely shared image, which evoked a still from “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings.”
After Saudi Arabia, Trump passed through Israel, where he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall and was welcomed warmly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump campaigned on strengthening the U.S. relationship with Israel, and touted ambitious plans for Middle East peace.
The trip was not without its odd moments.
Trump paid a visit to the country’s Holocaust memorial museum, where he signed the guest book: “IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS — SO AMAZING & WILL NEVER FORGET!” The Times of Israel called it an “awkward moment.”
The following year, Trump found himself at odds with other world leaders at a meeting of the Group of Seven countries in Quebec City, over trade and the issue of Russia’s exclusion from the G-7. An iconic image from the summit, seeming to make visible the tensions, went viral.
“Did Donald Trump just WALK IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN?” a royal protocol stickler wrote on Twitter, in response to footage of Trump leading the way as Queen Elizabeth II, who was 92 at the time, trailed behind — an image that ruffled feathers during Trump’s first visit to Britain.
An estimated 100,000 people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest Trump’s presence.
A giant balloon depicting Trump as an orange baby soared above the Houses of Parliament during his visit, and again when he visited in June 2019. It was recently acquired by the Museum of London, local media reported this month.
The blimp was given permission to fly by London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has long clashed with Trump over topics including his ban on travel from some predominantly Muslim countries, London crime and golf.
When Trump landed in Britain in 2019, he branded Khan a “stone cold loser” before having even stepped off the plane.
At the 2018 NATO summit of world leaders, Trump slammed allies including Germany, which he accused of being “captive to Russia” because of gas imports.
During his time in Brussels, Trump canceled meetings with other world leaders and was late to a sit-down with Britain’s Theresa May, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron. He also insisted that European nations increase their military spending — suggesting a new target that experts said would be almost impossible to meet.
Following the summit, many of Trump’s foreign counterparts canceled scheduled news conferences as they headed toward the airport, the Guardian reported.
After the NATO summit, Trump headed to Finland, where he appeared alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in Helsinki, challenging the U.S. intelligence community’s determination that Russia had interfered in America’s 2016 presidential election.
“They said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said of FBI officials. “I have President Putin — he just said it’s not Russia.”
Trump’s defense of Russia angered lawmakers back in the United States. Republican Sen. John McCain called the appearance “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
In August 2017, Trump warned that North Korea would meet “fire and fury like the world has never seen” should it threaten the United States with nuclear weapons or endanger American lives. One month later, Kim Jong Un branded Trump a “dotard.”
When the two met in 2019 for the third time, the rhetoric at least had shifted. In a historic moment, they shook hands in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, and Trump stepped briefly into North Korea, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.
Trump called the moment an honor, and said he and Kim had formed a close bond. Ultimately, however, their talks over denuclearization ended in a stalemate.
Trump’s 36-hour visit to the world’s largest democracy in February 2020 was replete with pomp, pageantry and protests. Billboards welcomed the U.S. president and the Taj Mahal was scrubbed until it gleamed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave Trump a warm welcome. The two held a joint rally called “Namaste Trump” in Ahmedabad that drew some 100,000 people, following a “Howdy, Modi” event in Houston the year before. But in Kolkata, student activists protested the president’s visit. In New Delhi, deadly violence broke out between supporters of and demonstrators against a new citizenship law, and at least a dozen people were killed before his visit ended.