White House defends Trump's Saudi speech as 'tough'


United States President Donald Trump, during his speech at the Arab-Islamic-US summit, acknowledged that India was a victim of terrorism and asked countries to ensure that terror groups don't find sanctuaries on their soil.

The speech in a gilded hall bedecked with chandeliers is part of an effort to redefine his relationship with the Muslim world after Trump frequently attacked Muslims on the campaign trail previous year and tried to ban many from entering the United States.

In his address to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, before more than 50 regional leaders, Trump also accused Iran of fueling "the fires of sectarian conflict and terror" and called for its worldwide isolation.

In remarks at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's residence, Trump launched another salvo against Iran.

"Nothing helps you learn and understand people better than coming to their homes, where they live and seeing them face to face, seeing their families, and seeing their communities", Tillerson said.

But over the weekend, he said: "I have always heard about the splendour of your country and the kindness of your people, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this sacred place". He'll close his ambitious first foreign trip at a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, where his reception from European leaders may be less effusive than his welcome in Israel and Saudi Arabia, his opening stop on the trip.

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The US President urged Arab and Islamic leaders to unite and do their share to defeat Islamist extremists, making an impassioned plea to "drive out" terrorists while toning down his own harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

Saudi Arabia rolled out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump on his inaugural overseas trip, but a moment involving a glowing orb had observers scratching their heads. "The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias", Trump said. Trump has also retreated from a campaign pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, bending to the same diplomatic and security concerns as other presidents who have made similar promises.

Tillerson said Trump's speech was directed not just to the leaders of Muslim nations, but also to Muslim-Americans of faith. "To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina", Trump said during the first presidential debate. "We want our children to grow up without fear".

He said the United States can not act alone. You talk about women and women's rights? "Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples", he said. "I was deeply encouraged by my conversations with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia".

But the subtle change - or slip, as the White House called it - could mean the difference between offending Middle Eastern allies and not, a concern for any president looking to create a good first impression with a key ally on a first trip overseas.

THEN: Trump lashed out at Michelle Obama on Twitter in 2015 when she opted against wearing a headscarf on her visit to Saudi Arabia.