Trump, in speech to Muslim leaders, calls for shutting down terror funding

Pauline Gross
May 23, 2017

During his second day of his first trip overseas, Trump's speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia addressed the leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority countries to challenge extremism by cutting off the financing of terrorist groups.

"This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people", said Trump, speaking to a summit of Arab and Muslim heads of state in Saudi Arabia's capital. "We are here instead to offer partnership in building a better future for us all".

Trump noted that Middle Eastern nations have sustained the highest number of casualties from terrorist attacks, describing it as a "tragedy of epic proportions". "Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth". Drive them out of your communities.

The president has been enthusiastically embraced in Riyadh, where the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia has welcomed his aggressive stance on Iran, its regional foe.

Soon after Trump embarked on his trip Friday, he was hit with more accusations that, with Comey's firing on May 9, he was trying to squelch a federal investigation into his campaign's ties with Russian Federation past year.

But the US President fell short of referencing "radical Islamic terrorism" - a term he uses frequently at home and has condemned President Barack Obama for failing to say.

On Sunday he held a series of meetings with other Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Bahrain's King Hamad.

"That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires". He largely kept his voice in check, reading carefully from the Teleprompter as he addressed the crowd, which remained quiet during his delivery.

This speech is closely watched in the region, especially in light of Trump's attempt earlier this year to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

In softening his stance from the campaign trail where Trump once declared "Islam hates us", Trump said Sunday Islam is "one of the world's great faiths".

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Saudi Arabia is seeking closer defense and commercial ties with the United States under Trump, as it seeks to develop its economy beyond oil and leads a coalition that is fighting a war in Yemen.

Obama called for understanding and acknowledged some of America's missteps in the region.

Former Trump advisor Walid Phares said the Saudis are making strides.

"Terrorists do not worship God. They worship death", he stated.

In December 2015, Trump told a campaign rally he was calling for a "total shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on".

Trump was greeted at the airport in Riyadh by King Salman, which was notable given that the monarch did not show up previous year to welcome President Barack Obama on his final visit to Saudi Arabia. As the participants laughed, Trump responded: "I agree".

Trump promised to schedule a trip to Egypt soon, and he singled out the Egyptian's choice of footwear, a pair of shiny black shoes. "Boy, those shoes" after their brief remarks to the press.

Trump will wrap up his visit to Saudi Arabia this evening and depart for Israel, where he will spend the next two days. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the United States courts. A revised version of the order has also been temporarily blocked by federal courts.

After leaving Saudi Arabia, Trump will arrive in Israel for a May 22 meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a visit to the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He'll also have an audience with Pope Francis, meet with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners in Brussels and attend the G7 summit in Sicily.

Other reports by GizPress

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