Trump hosts Twitter forum with young people from Saudi Arabia

In his speech, Trump said he was not there to "lecture" Muslim countries, but he did call for nations to promote "the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life - including women, children and followers of all faiths".

His speech came on the second day of his first trip overseas as president.

Democratic and Republican presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt have looked past Saudi Arabia's treatment of its own people to build stronger ties with the royal family there even while calling for the spread of democracy and human rights around the world. In an August 2016 speech, for example, Trump said Obama's 2009 speech to the Muslim World in Egypt lacked "moral courage" and was replete in naiveté.

USA Today quoted a June 2016 Facebook posting in which Trump said, "Saudi Arabia and numerous countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays". A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. The president put much of the onus for combating extremists on Mideast leaders: "Drive them out of your places of worship. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism, and the Islamists, and Islamic terror of all kinds", he said in his speech. A White House official blamed Trump's fatigue for the switch.

"I think that would be a bad abdication of our global leadership when it comes to advocating for people who are the subject of persecution", Schiff said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back at Trump in a tweet that Trump had attacked Iran in "that bastion of democracy & moderation" of Saudi Arabia and suggested he had "milked" his hosts for hundreds of billions of dollars in business deals.

Ivanka Trump on Sunday filled in for her father at the Tweeps Forum in Saudi Arabia, where she spoke about the power of social media.

"Our responsibility before God and our people and the whole world is to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism wherever they are". Obama had declined to use the term because he said he didn't want to connect terrorist groups like the Islamic State to the religion of Islam.

Iran is a Shi'ite Muslim country. The groups that the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and NY are mostly Sunni Muslims, and enemies of Iran. Iranian-backed militia are also fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.

The US and six Persian Gulf nations also agreed to clamp down on the financing of terrorism, amid concern in Washington that wealthy individuals in the Gulf are continuing to finance organisations such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

He also praised Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, telling him: "You have done a tremendous job under trying circumstances".

The president then complimented el-Sissi's choice of footwear: "Love your shoes".

By focusing on Muslim governments rather than people, and by focusing on terrorism rather than the broader conditions of the Middle East that catalyze volatility and violence, President Trump broke with his two immediate predecessors' strategies for engaging the Muslim world.


Melania Trump is joining her husband, US President Donald Trump, during his first presidential trip overseas, with Saudi Arabia the first stop on a nine-day journey through the Middle East and Europe. Officials spent the days before Trump's departure dealing with a steady stream of revelations about the federal investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation and the fallout from his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

  • Zachary Reyes