RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CBSNewYork) — The eyes of the Muslim world were on President Trump Sunday as he delivered a major address on Islam in Saudi Arabia.
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, Trump addressed the leaders of more than 50 countries during his first overseas speech at a summit in Riyadh. He called for all Middle East nations to combat against terrorism.
“Muslim nations must be willing to take on terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion,” Mr. Trump said.
Every country in the region must be sure no terrorists find “sanctuary” on their soil, the president said.
Trump said the Middle East is a “rich” land of natural resources, but it is “held at bay by bloodshed and terror.”
“(The Middle East) should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity,” the president said, adding the region shouldn’t be a place refugees flee, but to which newcomers “flock.”
“The potential of this region has never, ever been greater,” he added.
The approximately 33 minute long speech was also intended to “unite the broader Muslim world.”
“I stand before you as a representative of the American people to deliver a message of friendship, and hope and love.” That, says Mr. Trump, is why he made his first foreign trip a visit to the “heart” of the Muslim world.
He said the focus was not a battle between faiths, but against terrorism.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion,” Trump said.
Trump called on predominantly Muslim countries to share in the burden of confronting terrorist groups.
“Drive them out of your places of worship,” he said. “Drive them out of your communities.”
Trump said America will not try to “impose” its way of life on other nations.
“Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God,” Mr. Trump said.
The tone of Trump’s speech marked a departure from the rhetoric he used on the campaign trail, which may said set a negative tone for relations in the Middle East. When asked at one point if he meant all 1.6 billion Muslims hate America in one remark during the campaign, Trump said, “I mean a lot of them, a lot of them.”
And more recently, Trump signed a pair of sweeping executive orders intended to restrict travel from several Muslim-majority countries. The bans were challenged by the courts, and the status of the latest ban is still pending.
Earlier in the day, the president met with several leaders in the region. He also accepted an invitation from the president of Egypt to visit his country at some time in the future.
Saturday marked the first day in what is the first overseas trip of his presidency, highlighted by a multi-billion-dollar arms and economic deal with Saudi Arabia.
As CBS News reports, it was a move intended to strengthen the U.S.-Saudi Arabian alliance against ISIS. The agreement, worth $110 billion effective immediately and $350 billion over 10 years, is an effort to equip Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf partners in the fight against ISIS.
Trumpets announced Trump’s arrival Saturday, and the red carpet was rolled out for the First Couple as they were met by King Salman and other high-ranking Saudi officials.
The lavish welcome continued on the way to the Saudi royal court. American and Saudi flags lined the streets of Riyadh and men on horseback surrounded the president’s motorcade. The pageantry continued inside the royal court, where member of the Trump administration took part in a traditional sword dance. King Salman also presented Trump with a gilded necklace and medal.
But the day’s real business was the signing of the arms deal, which aims to bring American-made ships, planes and bombs to Saudi Arabia. The goal is to bolster the country’s efforts to fight terror in the Middle East and counterbalance rival Iran’s nuclear ambitions, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
“Tremendous investments into the United States, and our military community is very happy. We want to thank you and Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“This huge arms sales package reduces the burden on the United States to provide the same equipment to our own military forces and will strengthen Saudi security forces for the future, so that Saudi Arabia is more capable of carrying a greater share of the burden,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added.
Trump is the only American president to visit a Muslim-majority nation in his first overseas trip. On Sunday, he will deliver a speech to leaders from a dozen Muslim countries about fighting ISIS and Islamic extremists.
Afterwards, he is off to Israel, then the Vatican to meet with the pope, the NATO summit in Belgium and the G7 gathering in Sicily.
The president’s trip comes as several controversies back home continue to engulf his administration.
Fired FBI director James Comey agreed Friday to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The committee announced Friday night that Comey will appear at an opening hearing on Capitol Hill sometime after Memorial Day.
It will be the first time we hear from Comey in person since President Donald Trump let him go on May 9, igniting a firestorm, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported. He’s expected to discuss the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election, as well as his firing.
The announcement came just hours after the New York Times reported that Trump told Russian diplomats that firing the “nut job” FBI director had relieved “great pressure” on him.
The newspaper cites the White House’s official written account of the Oval Office meeting. It says one official had read quotations to the Times and another had confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.
Trump boarded Air Force One Friday without making any comment about the future leadership of the law enforcement agency.
The president departed Friday afternoon on his four-country, nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that a senior White House adviser is a significant person of interest in the Russia investigation.
In response to that article, Spicer said the investigation will conclude there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and any foreign entity.
“I do not have any information or knowledge regarding the person of interest that’s been referenced,” Tillerson added Saturday.
All of this news broke while Trump was en route to Saudi Arabia.
“If we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world, then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have,” Mr. Trump said Sunday.
“The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance.”
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