Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Saudis greet Trump with more than US$50b in deals

SAUDI ARABIA REUTERS
Kenny Thornton | 22 May, 2017, 00:39

"Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it... and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve" Mr Trump said.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih stated during the opening of the event that it signalled a "new partnership for the 21 century between Saudi Arabia and the USA".

Trump, accused of using anti-Muslim rhetoric on the election campaign trail, is later expected to tell Muslim leaders of his "hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam".

According to copies of the speech acquired by AP, Trump will say: "This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilisations".

A month after Donald Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States, a hijab-wearing American named Rose Hamid stood up in the grandstands a few rows behind the presidential candidate. The Saudis may put as much as US$45 billion into the venture, people aware of the matter said in January.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that the defense agreement was the "largest single arms deal in U.S. history" and said other deals amounted to $250 billion in commercial investment.

The drive into the centre of Riyadh in the lead up to 20 May was noticeably different to normal.

To the Muslim leaders, Trump said the United States will seek "gradual reforms - not sudden intervention" in areas like human rights.

The major speech, which Trump delivered Sunday during an Arab-Islamic-American summit in Riyadh to leaders of 55 Muslim-majority countries, marks Trump's first effort to reach out to the world's 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.

Trump to condemn 'Islamist extremism' in Arab capital
The speech drew polite applause for about 20 seconds but there was no standing ovation except from the US official delegation. He praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, telling him, "You have done a tremendous job under trying circumstances".

On the second day of his first trip overseas, Trump sought to demonstrate that he'd made progress with an agreement with Gulf Arab states on countering terrorist funding.

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The phrase is problematic, with critics arguing it portrays atrocities as an expression of Islam when most Muslims would regard such acts as a perversion of their faith.

Trump's speech also comes as he and his administration have continued to defend the executive order barring visitors to the USA from six Muslim-majority countries, which the administration is seeking to reinstate in litigation after it was blocked by federal judges.

The White House did not immediately release a text of the agreement.

Minutes before the summit started in the King Abdulaziz Convention Centre, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef signed a memorandum of understanding to create a counter-terrorism centre, which is set to be based in Riyadh.

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister has voiced concern about the U.S.'s $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump spoke to a group of women leaders in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, insisting that more needs to be done to improve the Islamic country's treatment of women. The US president's decision to make Riyadh his first official port of call has been well received with the kingdom's decision makers.

However, Trump's speech is likely to be met with wariness by many in the region, with the president's history of incendiary claims about Islam.

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