US President Donald Trump said that Qatar is a strategic partner in the war on terrorism.
In his address to the Arab-American Islamic Summit held in Riyadh, the US president stressed the importance of Qatar’s role in enhancing security in the region and the world, praising the role played by the Gulf Co-operation Council countries in the fight against terrorism.
The US president said that he stands before the Arab-American Islamic Summit as a representative of the American people to convey a message of love, friendship and hope.
He therefore chose to be his first foreign tour to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the heart of the Islamic nation.
Trump said the summit would mark the beginning of the end of terrorism. “We are not in a battle between religions but in a battle between good and evil,” Trump said.
He said that about 95% of the victims of terrorism were Muslims. “We are ready to seek common security and interests. We must unite behind one goal: to defeat terrorism and extremism,” Trump added.
The US president stressed that the Middle East should be transformed into a global trade hub, considering that this summit represents the beginning of peace not only in the Middle East but in the world.
He noted that Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen “have done a great job against the rebels in Yemen.”
The Iranian regime is responsible for destabilising the region,” he said, adding that it had fuelled sectarian conflicts for decades and had provided fertile ground for militant groups and militias in the region.
On the Syrian crisis, the US President urged the countries concerned to co-operate to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria and get rid of the ISIS (Daesh), pointing out that the Assad regime had committed unspeakable crimes with the support of Iran.
On the Palestinian issue, Trump underlined, in conclusion, that peace in this world is possible, including peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
Trump urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against violence committed in the name of religion.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart, said Trump’s address was the centrepiece of his visit to Riyadh, which started on Saturday with the announcement of billions of dollars in trade deals with Saudi Arabia and continued yesterday with the speech and meetings with Arab leaders.
The Saudi visit is the first leg of an eight-day foreign tour - Trump’s first as president - that will take him today to Israel and then the Palestinian territories and on to Europe.
His speech sought to rally Islamic leaders behind a renewed push to tackle extremism, with Trump urging religious leaders to condemn violence and governments of Muslim countries to make further efforts to end support for extremists.
Trump appealed to Muslim nations to ensure that “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil”, and announced an agreement with Gulf states to combat financing for extremists.
“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship! Drive them out of your communities!” Trump said.
Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries were in Riyadh for the Arab Islamic American Summit, mainly from Sunni states friendly to Saudi Arabia.
Much of the focus 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.
Introducing Trump, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman of Saudi Arabia called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism” and also vowed to “eliminate the Islamic State group”.
Washington is leading a coalition battling IS in Syria and Iraq, and Trump said he would hold a press conference “in about two weeks” on how the US is faring in the battle.
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