US President Donald Trump on Sunday is meeting with heads from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh to discuss the region’s security threats including the ones coming from Iran as well as trade ties.
The US-GCC meeting comes after Trump held several individual meetings and photo sessions with the Bahraini king, Qatari emir, Egyptian president, Kuwaiti emir and other Arab heads of state.
On the second day of his visit to the Saudi capital, the US-GCC summit is aimed at addressing security issues and completing a Gulf defense system.
The closed meeting with the six-member GCC’s heads is not the first Gulf-US summit.
The meeting follows two previous Gulf-US summits held in 2015, 2016 in Camp David and Riyadh respectively during the Obama’s administration.
The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi and UAE.
Appealing to Muslims worldwide
Trump is also scheduled to give his speech on terrorism in a bid to appeal to Muslims worldwide during the Arab-Islamic-American summit.
Trump’s speech, the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, will address the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries to cast the challenge of extremism as a “battle between good and evil.”
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told the US ABC channel that Trump might abandon the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in his speech.
“The president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” McMaster told ABC in an interview. “But I think it’s important that, whatever we call it, we recognize that [extremists] are not religious people. And, in fact, these enemies of all civilizations, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under this fall idea of some kind of religious war.”
He added that the speech will be “inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”
Trump will also hold bilateral meetings with the president of Egypt, king of Bahrain, emirs of Qatar and Kuwait. Both Trump and King Salman are expected to “flip switch” to kick start Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, symbolizing further intelligence sharing between the two countries.
Speaking to journalists after a ceremony to exchange agreements on Saturday, Trump said it was a “tremendous day” and spoke of “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs. So I would like to thank all of the people of Saudi Arabia.”
King Salman gave Trump a remarkably warm greeting on Saturday, meeting him at the steps of Air Force One on arrival. King Salman and Trump also took part in a traditional ardha dance at the King Abdulaziz cultural center on Saturday night.
Saudi Arabia and the United States on Saturday signed military deals worth $110 billion, a White House official said on the sidelines of Trump’s visit to Riyadh.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir called the results of Trump’s meetings with King Salman on Saturday “the beginning of a turning point” between the United States, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.
Both he and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear the arms deal was aimed at countering Iran on a day that Hassan Rouhani was re-elected as Iran’s president.
Tillerson said Rouhani should use his second term to end Iran’s ballistic missile testing and stop promoting extremism in a volatile region.
He said he had no plans to talk to his Iranian counterpart but that he in all likelihood he would do so “at the right time.”
Al-Jubeir said Trump and King Salman agreed that action had to be taken to ensure Iran did not continue “aggressive policies in the region.”
Trump’s trip has been billed by the White House as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world’s major religions, while giving him time to meet with Arab, Israeli and European leaders.
Trump is expected to leave Riyadh early Monday, to start his second leg of his foreign visits to Israel and Palestine before heading to the Vatican and later the European Union capital of Brussels.
(With Reuters, AP)
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