President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office,March 14, 2017.
President Trump is set to give a major speech about radical ideology to leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries when he makes his first official visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of this week, his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday.
“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” McMaster said.
Trump will also participate in the opening of a center intended to fight radicalism and promote moderation.
“By establishing and operating this center, our Muslim friends, including Saudi Arabia, are taking a firm stand against extremism and those who use a perverted interpretation of religion to advance their criminal and political agendas,” McMaster said.
While in Saudi Arabia, the president will also have coffee with King Salman, attend a royal banquet and hold bilateral meetings with the king and the crown prince, McMaster said. Trump is expected to participate in a signing ceremony of “several agreements that will further solidify U.S.-Saudi security and economic cooperation.”
As a candidate for president, Trump didn’t mince words about Saudi Arabia.
“We defend Saudi Arabia. They don’t pay us nearly what they should be paying. So essentially we are subsidizing all of these countries,” Trump said at a rally last year. “How stupid are we? A country like Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for a week.”
As president, Trump signed two executive orders that critics say unfairly target Muslims from six Muslim-majority countries. Saudi Arabia is not one of the countries named in the immigration executive order, but the majority of the country’s 28 million citizens are Muslim.
McMaster called the upcoming trip “historic.”
By MARIAM KHAN