World Middle East 21 May 2017 Amid FBI pressure ba ...

Amid FBI pressure back home, Trump attempts 'reset' with Islamic world

REUTERS
Published May 21, 2017, 6:31 pm IST
Updated May 21, 2017, 6:31 pm IST
Trump's speech at an Arab Islamic American Summit includes appeals for Muslims to unite against the threat of Islamist militants.
US President shakes hands with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a meeting with leaders at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, on May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (Photo: AP)
 US President shakes hands with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a meeting with leaders at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, on May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (Photo: AP)

Riyadh: US President Donald Trump, struggling to shake a brewing scandal at home, will attempt a reset on Sunday with the Islamic world after frequently attacking Muslims on the campaign trail in 2016 and trying to ban many from the United States.

Trump's afternoon speech at an Arab Islamic American Summit (4:20 pm local/9:20 am EDT) will include appeals for Muslims to unite against the threat of Islamist militants.

 

Whether he would use his signature campaign phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ to describe the threat was unclear. His speech was still being worked on late on Saturday, and some advisers were cautioning him against using the term.

Trump started his day in individual meetings with Arab leaders.

He praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, telling him, "You have done a tremendous job under trying circumstances." Trump promised to schedule a trip to Egypt soon.

Separately he told Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani they would discuss "lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States."

 

In a meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Trump declared that the two nations had a lot in common and that despite previous tensions, "there won't be strain with this administration." The king lauded the relationship and said it had led to "great stability in the region and prosperity."

Swords, Beating Drums

Trump also has individual meetings scheduled with the leaders of Kuwait and Oman.

The president on Sunday also will convene the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council as part of his effort to counter Iran with a NATO-like Arab force.

 

Trump and the leaders will establish a centre aimed at cracking down on the ability of Islamic militants to spread their message.

Trump's Riyadh visit kicks off his first presidential trip abroad, with Saudi Arabia the first stop on a nine-day journey through the Middle East and Europe.

Trump drew the ire of Muslims during his presidential campaign by calling for a ban on them entering the United States. His attempt early in his presidency to ban people from seven Muslim-majority nations has been blocked by the courts.

The speech comes as Trump tries to escape the fallout from his May 9 firing of former FBI Director James Comey amid accusations he was trying to stop a federal investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia in 2016.

 

The New York Times reported Trump called Comey a ‘nut job’ in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week. The Washington Post said the probe had reached into the White House to include a Trump adviser, who was not named.

Trump showed little sign of the pressure during a day of diplomacy on Saturday during which he was warmly welcomed by Saudi King Salman.

At a royal banquet on Saturday night, Trump walked into a colourful spectacle: Men in ceremonial dress and carrying swords chanted in unison to beating drums in a courtyard. Trump, clearly enjoying himself, smiled and swayed, even seeming to dance a little at the centre of the group.

 

A strong wind later blew sand through the area.

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Location: Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Riyadh




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