Accessibility links

Trump Calls For Coalition To 'Stamp Out Extremism,' Slams Iran During Landmark Speech


U.S. President Donald Trump has called for a "coalition of nations" in the Middle East with the aim of "stamping out extremism" during a landmark speech on May 21 to dozens of leaders of Muslim states on the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia.

In his address to the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Trump also blamed Iran of funding, arming, and training Shi'ite militias that have spread "destruction and chaos" in the region, during his address to more than 50 regional leaders.

Trump put the onus in the fight on extremism on the region, telling Muslim leaders that they must "drive out" the terrorists in their countries.

"A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists," he said. "Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of the holy land."

Trump promised "that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit cooperation and trust."

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations," Trump said. "This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil," he said.

"We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship," Trump added. "Instead, we are here to offer partnership based on shared interests and values."

Much of the focus during the summit was on countering what Gulf states see as the threat from Iran, which opposes Saudi Arabia in a range of regional conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

Sitting alongside Trump, Saudi King Salman declared, "The Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism."

Trump himself criticized Tehran for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying Tehran's support allowed Assad to commit "unspeakable crimes" during Syria's six-year civil war.

"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region," Trump said.

"Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it," he added.

Earlier on May 21, Trump met with leaders of the countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh. The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of six Arab nations which are traditional allies of the United States -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Trump's address was the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop overseas as president.

The speech is one of the key moments of his first foreign trip, which will also take him to Israel, the Vatican City, a Group of Seven meeting in Sicily, and a NATO gathering in Brussels.

It was closely watched given the anti-Muslim comments by Trump during his presidential campaign and his attempt after inauguration to institute a temporary U.S. entry ban on nationals and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries, although not including Saudi Arabia.

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.

Reporting by RFE/Rl Central News, based on AP and Reuters
XS
SM
MD
LG