Trump Address on Islam in Saudi Arabia Will Follow Strengthened Ties with Muslim Allies

FILE -- In this March 14, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

President Donald Trump will give a speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia and will attend the opening of a center promoting moderate Islam, national security adviser H.R. McMaster revealed on Tuesday.

The speech will mark the beginning of Trump’s tour across the Arab world, which begins on Friday and will be his first as president. It follows key in-person meetings this year with allied heads of state in the Muslim world to discuss the eradication of radical Islamic terrorism, notably Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II.

McMaster revealed that Trump will address leaders from 50 Muslim-majority countries, though he did not note which would specifically attend as he seeks to “deliver an inspiring but direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”

In addition to his remarks, Trump will also “participate in the founding of a new center intended to fight radicalism and promote moderation” in Saudi Arabia, a country known for its strong links with radical Islam.

Trump has already met with a number of Arab leaders to discuss the threat presented by ISIS, including King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who thanked Trump for their alliance against terrorism’s “satanic ideology.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for her ties to Saudi Arabia, noting that the Clinton Foundation had received hefty sums from Saudi donors and encouraging Clinton to return the money.

“So Hillary thinks they are funding ISIS, but still takes their money. And you know their views on gays. And you know their views on women. I think she should give back the $25 to $35 million she’s taken from Saudi Arabia. And she should give it back fast,” he said at the time.

However, Trump also supported retaining Saudi Arabia as an ally and suggested Riyadh should develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to regional rival Iran.

In January, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the country’s leadership felt “optimistic about the incoming administration” and Trump’s positions on American influence, containing Iran and fighting the Islamic State.

Following a successful meeting between Donald Trump and his senior adviser in March, the Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described Trump as a “true friend of Muslims,” adding that he respected and supports Trump’s proposed travel ban for people from seven terror prone Muslim majority countries.

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