RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver an address Sunday in Riyadh to dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders at a regional summit focusing on combating extremism.
Ahead of the speech, the U.S. president has been meeting with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to discuss differences with Iran and how to deal with the country, and how to crack down on Islamic militancy.
Earlier Sunday, on the second day of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump held bilateral talks with the Arab leaders of Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait.
In talks with Bahrain's King Hamad Isa Al Khalilfa, Trump said "Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won't be strain with this administration." The Trump administration decided this year to go ahead with the multi-billion-dollar sale of military jets and related equipment. The sale had been held up during the Obama administration by human rights concerns.
Trump accepted an invitation to visit Egypt during his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Trump said, “We will absolutely be putting that on the list very soon.” Trump said there are “some very important talks going on with Egypt” and acknowledged the country’s help with the release of U.S. aid worker Aya Hijazi, who had been held captive for three years.
Sissi told Trump the U.S. leader has “a unique personality” that allowed him “to do the impossible.” Trump said, “I agree.”
Trump was also overheard complimenting el-Sissi's shoes.
In talks with Bahrain’s King Hamad Isa Al Khalilfa, Trump said, “Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won’t be strain with this administration.” The Trump administration decided this year to go ahead with the multibillion-dollar sale of military jets and related equipment. The sale had been held up during the Obama administration by human rights concerns.
He next met with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
With Trump were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell were among those present.
Address to Muslim leaders
But the centerpiece of the day, if not the visit, will be his address to leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries.
In a draft of his upcoming speech obtained by The Associated Press, Trump will urge the Muslim leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship.”
It is a surprising turn for the president in the wake of his “America First” rhetoric and campaign statements calling for a “Muslim ban” backed by subsequent orders attempting to limit travel on six Muslim-majority countries.
Saudi Arabia is an unprecedented destination for an initial overseas visit by any U.S. president, but the oil-rich nation, which has deep, long-standing energy and defense ties to the United States, was not named in the travel bans.
Arms deals signed
On Saturday, Trump and his host, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz, signed a nearly $110 billion agreement to bolster the military capabilities of Saudi Arabia.
The defense deal, effective immediately, was one of a series agreements the two countries signed to enhance their military and economic partnerships, including a second defense pact with options valued at up to $350 billion over the next 10 years.
“It was a tremendous day,” Trump said while meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef at a Riyadh hotel. “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” the president said in a reference to the potential job creation opportunities the agreements provide.
The White House said in a statement earlier that the defense deals would create new opportunities for U.S. companies in the Middle East and support “tens of thousands” of new jobs in the U.S. defense industry.
The White House statement also said the deals would help the countries more effectively address common threats.
“This package of defense equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the kingdom’s ability to contribute to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations,” the statement said.
Included in the defense agreements is a $6 billion pledge to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to result in the creation of 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia.
The military package also includes combat ships, tanks, missile defense systems and cybersecurity technology.
Additionally, American conglomerate General Electric said Saturday that it had signed $15 billion in agreements with Saudi organizations. Saudi Aramco said it expected to sign $50 million in deals with U.S. companies in an attempt to diversify the kingdom’s economy beyond oil exports.
Trump receives kingdom's highest honor
Earlier Saturday, King Salman presented Trump with the kingdom’s highest civilian honor during a meeting at the Royal Court in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The two leaders also signed a vision statement vowing to work closely to combat terrorism as Trump’s wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner looked on.
After Trump and the others entered the court to the music of bagpipes, King Salman decorated him with the gold King Abdulaziz al-Saud Medal.
The trip began with King Salman greeting the Trumps at the airport. They walked along a red carpet into the Royal Hall, a terminal at the airport, where they talked briefly. Minutes later, the Trumps and the Saudi king left the airport in a motorcade, heading to the city along a route with deserted streets.