(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — President Donald Trump will use the nation that is home to Islam’s holiest site as a backdrop to call for Muslim unity in the fight against terrorism Sunday, as he works to build relationships with Arab leaders.
On the second day of his first trip abroad, Trump sought to demonstrate that he’d made progress with an agreement with Gulf Arab states on countering terrorist funding.
Under the memorandum of understanding with the Gulf Cooperation Council announced in Saudi Arabia, participants are pledging to prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals. The White House did not immediately release the document. But White House adviser Dina Powell said she hoped the deal with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would be the “farthest reaching commitment to not finance terrorist organizations” and would lead to prosecutions.
Trump’s Sunday speech, the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, will address the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries to cast the challenge of extremism as a “battle between good and evil” and urge Arab leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. He also said that in about two weeks he would hold a news conference about the nation’s efforts fighting terror.
Trump, whose campaign was frequently punctuated by bouts of anti-Islamic rhetoric, is poised to soften some of his language about Islam. Though during the campaign he repeatedly stressed the need to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism” — and criticized his opponent, Hillary Clinton, for not doing so — that phrase is not included in the draft.
It does, however, mention “the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires,” according to excerpts released by the White House Sunday, ahead of the speech.
The speech comes amid a renewed courtship of the United States’ Arab allies as Trump held individual meetings with leaders of several nations, including Egypt and Qatar, before participating in a roundtable with the Gulf Cooperation Council and joining Saudi King Salman in opening Riyadh’s new anti-terrorism center.
A Sunday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi underscored the kinship, with Trump…