Trump urges Muslim leaders to lead fight against radicalisation

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Media captionTrump tells Muslim nations to “Drive out the terrorists”

US President Donald Trump has urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation in a major speech in Saudi Arabia.

“Drive them out of this earth,” he told regional leaders in Riyadh as part of his first official trip abroad.

Mr Trump singled out Iran for being responsible for instability in the region, saying it should be “isolated”.

His speech is seen as a reset with Muslims after his campaign rhetoric stirred concerns in the Islamic world.

Mr Trump had previously suggested he would be open to creating a database of all the Muslims in the US, also called for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns.

‘Good vs evil’

Speaking in the Saudi capital, Mr Trump called this a “new chapter”, saying he was not there to “lecture” the countries or impose America’s way of life.

The fight against extremism, he added, was not a battle between different faiths: “This is a battle between good and evil”.

But, he said, the countries could not wait for “America power” to act.

“We can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong, and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfils their part of the burden.”

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The speech was a change in tone for Mr Trump who, in an interview last year, famously said: “I think Islam hates us.”

He did not include the controversial phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”. In the past, he has criticised his predecessor, Barack Obama, and others for not employing these terms, considered offensive by many Muslims.

Cutting off the money

Meanwhile, the US and six Gulf states were expected to sign a deal to co-ordinate their efforts aimed at cutting off sources of money for extremist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS).

The countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – are involved in the fight against the militants, but have been accused of backing the group and other Sunni militants – most notably in a 2014 email by Hillary Clinton released by Wikileaks.

“The unique piece of it is that every single one of them are signatories on how they’re responsible and will actually prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals,” said Dina Powell, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy.

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Media captionDonald Trump sways along with a traditional Saudi sword dance

In a separate development, on Saturday, the US signed trade deals of $350bn (£270bn) with Saudi Arabia.

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

The agenda for the rest of Mr Trump’s trip

Mr Trump’s eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

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

  • Monday-Tuesday, 22-23 May: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, before visiting the West Bank on Tuesday
  • Wednesday 24 May: Rome and Brussels. Mr Trump will meet Pope Francis, then Belgian officials
  • Thursday, 25 May: A Nato summit in Brussels
  • Friday, 26 May: Sicily, for a meeting of G7 members

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