Near the birthplace of Islam, President Donald Trump called for an alliance of Muslim-Arab nations to combat Islamic terrorism in his first major international address.
“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,” Trump said in speaking to the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh.
Trump, who spoke for about 35 minutes to more than 50 leaders of Muslim-majority countries, also announced many Middle Eastern countries were signing an agreement to prevent terrorism financing by establishing the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Trump also participated in the opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh.
Trump talked about the 9/11 attacks and the Boston bombing in the United States, and noted terrorist attacks across the world. He said some estimates show 95 percent of victims of terrorism are Muslims.
“In sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim, and Middle Eastern nations,” Trump said. “They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.”
In a departure of sorts from both previous administrations, Trump struck a noninterventionist tone, asserting the U.S. does not want to “lecture” Middle Eastern countries, but he also called for the countries of the region to “take the lead” in fighting terrorism.
Trump didn’t use the term “radical Islam,” which he criticized the Obama administration for not using, but he clearly identified Islamic terrorism.