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Meetings with Prince Harry, Canadian PM for Melania Trump


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WASHINGTON (AP) – Melania Trump is set to take her biggest step yet as first lady.

She’s leading the U.S. delegation to an international sporting event for wounded service members, her first solo trip outside the United States to represent her adopted country.

On the agenda for daylong stop Saturday in Toronto: a first-time meeting with Britain’s Prince Harry, founder of the Invictus Games; a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; remarks at a reception for the nearly 100 American athletes participating in the weeklong Olympic-style competition; and attending the opening ceremony.

In this Sept. 22, 2017, photo, first lady Melania Trump takes off her gloves after participating in an harvesting and planting event with the Boys and Girls Club of Washington in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Melania Trump is set to take her biggest step yet as first lady. She’s leading a U.S. delegation to a sporting event in Toronto for wounded service members, her first solo trip outside of the U.S. to represent her adopted country without President Donald Trump by her side. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Her decision to lead the American 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 U.S. military, said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump.

“She feels strongly that they – and their families – should be honored every day,” Grisham said.

Grisham said Mrs. Trump 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 U.S. Air Force, the first lady thanked the many members of the military who assisted thousands people in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and the Caribbean whose lives were upended by recent hurricanes.

A native of Slovenia who became a U.S. citizen in 2006, Mrs. Trump 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 President Donald Trump. “This kind of lifestyle requires its own kind of courage and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.”

Mrs. Trump 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 the president on his three overseas trips so far this year.

Prince Harry established the Invictus Games in 2014 for sick and wounded service members from around the globe. 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, last year.

Mrs. Trump’s participation continues White House involvement with the games, which were launched during President Barack Obama’s tenure.

Jill Biden, wife of then-Vice President Joe Biden, led the U.S. delegation to London as part of a military initiative undertaken with then-first lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama helped open last year’s competition in Orlando.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Britain's Prince Harry, right, speaks to an athlete from the volleyball team from the United Kingdom during training in the lead-up to the Invictus Games, in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Britain’s Prince Harry, right, speaks to an athlete from the volleyball team from the United Kingdom during training in the lead-up to the Invictus Games, in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives a gift from President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko during the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Invictus Gala, held in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives a gift from President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko during the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Invictus Gala, held in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

Prince Harry talks with Bronwen Evans and Leah Cuffe, right, during a reception before the True Patriot Love Symposium, in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.  Prince Harry is in Toronto ahead of his Invictus Games for wounded veterans.  
(Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

Prince Harry talks with Bronwen Evans and Leah Cuffe, right, during a reception before the True Patriot Love Symposium, in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Prince Harry is in Toronto ahead of his Invictus Games for wounded veterans. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

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