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Melania on first solo trip outside US, leads delegation to international sports event

AP
Published : Sep 23, 2017, 5:38 pm IST
Updated : Sep 23, 2017, 5:38 pm IST

Melania Trump is scheduled to meet Britain's Prince Harry for the first time, who founded the Invictus Games in 2014.

A native of Slovenia who became a US citizen in 2006, Melania also thanked service members' families. (Photo: AP)
 A native of Slovenia who became a US citizen in 2006, Melania also thanked service members' families. (Photo: AP)

Washington: Melania Trump is set to take her biggest step yet as the first lady. She's leading the US delegation to an international sporting event for wounded service members, her first solo trip outside of the US to represent her adopted country without President Donald Trump at her side.

The day-long stop on Saturday in Toronto also includes a brush with royalty. The first lady is scheduled to meet Britain's Prince Harry for the first time, who founded the Invictus Games in 2014.

She is also meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and delivering remarks at a reception for the nearly 100 American athletes participating in the weeklong Olympic-style competition.

Melania Trump will also attend Saturday's opening ceremony. Her decision to lead the US delegation, whose members include Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, professional golfer Nancy Lopez and entertainer Wayne Newton, reflects the first lady's ‘utmost respect’ for the hard work, courage and sacrifice of the US military, said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania.

"She feels strongly that they - and their families - should be honoured every day," Grisham said. Grisham added that Melania also has "great admiration for the role the games have played in empowering those who have been injured while serving."

At an event last week marking the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force, the first lady thanked the many members of the military who assisted thousands of people whose lives were upended by recent powerful hurricanes that ripped through parts of the southern US and the Caribbean.

A native of Slovenia who became a US citizen in 2006, Melania also thanked service members' families.

"You endure time apart, are expected to move when new orders come in and face the uncertainty that can come in times of need," she said at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, before introducing the president.

"This kind of lifestyle requires its own kind of courage and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated." Melania has been slowly warming up to her new role, waiting to move to the White House until her 11-year-old son finished the school year in New York and holding few public events of her own.

She accompanied Trump on his three overseas trips so far in 2017, but today will mark the first time that she crosses the border without him.

Prince Harry established the Invictus Games in 2014 for sick and wounded service members from around the world.

More than 550 individuals from 17 countries are expected to participate in 12 sports during the coming week, ranging from cycling to wheelchair tennis to sitting volleyball. London was the setting for the inaugural event in 2015, followed by Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

Tags: melania trump, donald trump, us first lady, invictus games, first solo trip
Location: United States, District of Columbia, Washington