Trump in Saudi Arabia: US president to address Islamic leaders

US President Donald Trump is expected to underline the need to confront extremism in Islam when he makes a speech in Saudi Arabia later on Sunday.

His address, to a summit of regional leaders, will come on the second day of his first presidential trip abroad.

It is expected he will attempt to strike a collaborative tone in attempts to bolster support for the US fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.
On Saturday, the US signed trade deals of $350bn (£270bn) with Saudi Arabia.

This included the largest arms deal ever made in US history, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said was aimed at countering the “malign” influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

But the president’s visit has been overshadowed by his political difficulties at home, namely the fallout over his sacking of FBI chief James Comey.

Mr Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

Significance and sensitivity – analysis by Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent, Riyadh

President Trump’s keynote speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations takes him into risky territory. White House briefers say it will be uplifting, inspirational and unifying, but also blunt. He is expected to tell governments they need to do more to stamp out religious intolerance and extremism.

This could go one of two ways. If he sticks to the script and presents his administration as being supportive and collegiate, avoiding the sort of inflammatory language he has used in the past, it should pass without incident.

But if he uses terms like “radical Islamic terrorism”, which he has in the past, or adopts a hectoring, authoritarian tone, then that is likely to cause considerable offence.

There is huge significance and sensitivity in the location here. Saudi Arabia is both the birthplace of Islam and home to the two most sacred pilgrimage sites for the millions who make the journey every year. Donald Trump’s speech is likely to be watched with a critical eye.

According to a report by CNN, the same man who wrote the travel ban – adviser Stephen Miller – has written Mr Trump’s speech about Islam.
The Associated Press agency, which was given copies of the speech by two sources, said the speech aimed to cast extremism as a battle between good and evil.

AP said Mr Trump will say: “We are not here to lecture – to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be. We are here instead to offer partnership in building a better future for us all.”

Mr Trump has made a number of controversial comments about Islam, including suggesting he would be open to creating a database of all the Muslims in the US, linking the religion with violence.

He has also criticised other politicians for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” – a phrase which, according to advisers quoted in the

US media, will not feature in the speech.
Mr Trump’s eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.