Riyadh: US President Donald Trump on Sunday while addressing the Arab Islamic –American summit in Saudi Arabia urged Islamic leaders to take a stand against violence done in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a “battle between good and evil”.
In a highly projected speech in Saudi Arabia, Trump lashed out at Iran, accusing Tehran of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” and calling for its international isolation.
Saying he came with “a message of friendship and hope and love”, Trump told dozens of Muslim leaders that the time had come for “honestly confronting the crisis of religious extremism”.
“This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.”
The speech came on the second day of a visit to Saudi Arabia, part of Trump’s first foreign tour that will take him next to Israel and the Palestinian territories and then to Europe.
The White House has sought to draw a clear distinction during the visit with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies saw as lecturing and soft on their Shiite rival Iran.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump said.
“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it.” He appealed to Muslim nations to ensure that “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil” and announced an agreement with Gulf countries to fight financing for extremists.
Introducing Trump, Saudi King Salman called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism”.
Unlike the Obama administration which would often raise concerns over civil liberties with longstanding Arab allies, Trump had made no mention of human rights during his visit so far.
“We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live… or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values,” Trump said.
Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries were in Riyadh for the Arab Islamic American Summit, mainly from Sunni states friendly to Saudi Arabia.
Much of the focus during the summit was on countering what Gulf states see as the threat from Iran, which opposes Saudi Arabia in a range of regional conflicts from Syria to Yemen