Trump to Muslim World: If Three Faiths Join, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is Possible

In first speech on foreign soil, Trump lashes out at Iran, says its own citizens are victims of its policies and that ISIS, Al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas are responsible for generations of vanished dreams

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017
President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries on Sunday afternoon in his first speech on foreign soil since taking office.

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Speaking at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Trump began by thanking Saudi Arabia for hosting the event. "I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have also heard about the splendor of your kingdom, but words cannot do justice to the hospitality you showed to us from the moment we arrived," he said.

>> READ IN FULL: Trump's first speech to Muslim world >>

Trump spoke about the historical partnership between the two countries going back to the days of King Abdul-Aziz and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, adding, "Today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to all of our citizens." Trump also thanked all the heads of state who convened in Saudi Arabia's capital to attend the summit.

"Our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and to mine," he said.

Trump continued: "I'm here to deliver a message of friendship, hope and love. I chose to make my first foreign trip to the heart of the Muslim world. In my inaugural address I pledged that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hand for a vision of peace, security and prosperity. Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism."

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"This historic and undprecedented gathering of leaders is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve," he said.

Trump then announced the results of his talks with Saudi officials. "My meetings with King Salman, the crown prince and the deputy crown prince, have been filled with tremendous cooperation. Yesterday we signed a historic agreement with the kingdom that will invest almost 400 billion dollars in our two countries and create hundreds of thousands of jobs."

Trump before delivering a speech at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

"We will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies," continued Trump. "We've started discussions with many of the countries present today on advancing security and stability across the Middle East."

Trump then turned to security issues, saying that "Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization." He also thanked the Saudi king for "powerful leadership" on this issue.

"We're not here to lecture, to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. We are here to offer partnership," said Trump.

"We must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration – to vanquish terrorism. Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence and innocent from hatred. They should have the chance to build new Arab prosperity for themselves. It has to be done and we have to let them do it.

"This future can only be achieved by defeating terrorism, and the ideology that defines it," he said.

Trump noted that terrorism has statistically affected "the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations" more than any other.

"Some estimates say that more than 95% of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslims. It is a tragedy of epic proportions," he said. "No description of the suffering can begin to capture its full measure. ISIS, Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas – it must be counted not just in the number of dead, but in generations of vanished dreams."

Trump walked the audience through a tour of the Middle East, mentioning all the spots of potential that have suffered from "bloodshed and terror." He mentioned many countries in the region, but not Israel.

"Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death. If we do not act against this organized terror, we know what will be the end result," he said. "The futures of many generations will be sadly squandered."

"We can only overcome the forces of evil if the forces of good are united and strong. Terrorism has spread all across the world, but the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land," said Trump. "America is prepared to stand with you, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait on America to crush this power for them.

Melania Trump waits for her husband, U.S. President Donald Trump, to deliver a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

"Drive them out of your places of worship, communities, holy land, and out of this earth. For our part, America is committed to adjust our strategies. We will discard those strategies that did not work, and will apply new ones. We are adopting a principled realism. Our friends will never question our support and our enemies will never doubt our determination."

Trump praised a number of countries int the region for their contribution to the fight against terrorism, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait.

"We need to stand together against the murder of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians," Trump continued.

"If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, brief and your soul will be fully condemned. Political leaders must speak out to affirm the same ideas," he said.

Trump said his trip will show that peace is possible, including between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

“If these three faiths can join, peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said.

He noted that he will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas.

After mentioning his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Trump moved to attacking Iran, saying that "it is responsible for so much instability in the region." He added that Iran "funds arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups."

Trump attacked Iran for its calls to eliminate Israel and blamed the country for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.

"Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS and stabilize the region," he said, adding that Iran's main victims are its own citizens who suffer from the regime's policies.

"All nations must work together to isolate it, and deny it from funding terrorism," he concluded.

Trump also mentioned during his address that earlier this week, the United States and Saudi Arabia jointly designated a senior Hezbollah operative in Lebanon a terrorist.

"If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring – more suffering, death and despair," said Trump. "But if we act, if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes, then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have. The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring."

Trump did not mention Russia during his speech, although he did attack Iran and Assad – Russia's partners in the Syrian arena – a number of times.

King Salman, who spoke before Trump, used his speech to attack Iran, Saudi Arabia's main rival in the Middle East. "Iran has turned down all good neighborliness," he declared, adding that Iran has been "at the spearhead of terrorism" in the world ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979. He said that Iran is the main source of instability and violence in the region, and thanked Trump for his commitment to fighting terrorism.

Jordanian King Abdullah, who addressed the summit after Trump, responded to the latter's speech by saying that the Arab world will help the United States achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The King Abdullah also warned about steps taken by Israel in Jerusalem that could harm the peace process.

Both King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi emphasized the importance of the two-state solution in their speeches.

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