Saudi king slams Iran as ´spearhead of global terrorism´


To be sure, Trump's predecessors have also forged close ties with Saudi Arabia, an important US partner in the Middle East, and other nations with questionable human rights records.

The closest Trump came to acknowledging the human rights situation was a call for the region's leaders to stand together against "the oppression of women".

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations", Trump said.

Neither Melania nor Ivanka Trump have worn headscarves during the visit, following the tradition of other presidential spouses who visited Saudi Arabia.

For Trump, the visit has been a welcome escape from the crush of controversies that have consumed his administration in recent weeks. He once mused that he thought "Islam hates us".

But Trump departed for Europe having offered no real indication of a path forward on one of the world's most intractable disputes.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people", Trump said upon his arrival in Tel Aviv.

In his speech Trump, lumped Hamas with ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah when referring to the cost of terrorism - both in the number of victims and in "generations of vanished dreams". A White House official later said the president did raise women's rights in his private meetings with Saudi officials, and noted that administration officials broached the topic in their talks in the lead-up to the trip. Trump said the two countries "have a wonderful relationship" but that "there has been a little strain" and vowed to improve things further. Both the original order and a second directive that dropped Iraq from the banned list have been blocked by the courts.

To some viewers in the United States, where Muslims make up about 1 percent of the population, the pivot was surprising - particularly after days of hand-wringing over the news that Trump's adviser Stephen Miller, a longtime critic of Islam, would be drafting the speech.

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"The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children", he said.

Addressing an unprecedented U.S. -Arab-Islamic gathering in Riyadh, Trump did not shy away from using terms eschewed by his predecessor such as "Islamic terror" and "Islamic extremism", and he painted "Islamists" as part of the threat. It is the only country where they are not allowed to drive. "Drive them out of your communities".

Trump's speech on Islam was authored by Stephen Miller, who also wrote the President's travel ban, a White House official has told CNN. "And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East", Obama told The Atlantic previous year, explaining his policy.

While President Trump hasn't addressed this issue directly, the First Daughter said in a speech to leading Saudi businesswomen that the country was making "progress" in its treatment of women that "is very encouraging".

"So many young, handsome innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life", Trump said, echoing the theme he presented during his meetings with Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But Trump's offhand remark was another stark reminder that his troubles at home, including the investigation of his campaign's ties to Russian Federation and his firing of FBI Director James Comey, have followed him across the ocean.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Trump's welcome in the region was put on display during a series of individual meetings with Arab leaders. To the king's left are Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Trump praised el-Sissi for the April release of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi, detained in the country for almost three years.

Trump's visit to Jerusalem has been laden with religious symbolism. As the participants laughed, Trump responded: "I agree". "Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes", he said. "Boy, those shoes" after their brief remarks to the media.

On conclusion of the event, a Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was inaugurated in a ceremony attended by the leaders. He sent his daughter, Ivanka, instead.