Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Israeli Minister Expresses Concern Over US-Saudi Arms Deal

US President Donald Trump has called on Arab leaders to do their fair share to "drive out" terrorism from their countries in a speech that put the burden on the region to combat militant groups. "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.

Trump made no mention of the disputed travel ban, signed days after he took office, that temporarily banned immigration to the USA from seven majority Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. "We are here instead to offer partnership in building a better future for us all", according to the copy of his speech.

During his speech at the Arab-Islamic-US summit, Trump acknowledged that India was a victim of terrorism and asked countries to ensure that terror groups don't find sanctuaries on their soil.

"Terrorists do not worship God".

But Trump also rejected the "clash of civilizations" rhetoric espoused by some of his more nationalistic advisers. "But nations of the Middle East can not wait for American power to crush this enemy for them", Mr Trump told leaders of 55 Muslim majority countries representing more than a billion people. In office he ordered temporary bans on people from certain Muslim-majority countries, which have been blocked by courts that ruled they were discriminatory.

The White House has sought to draw a clear distinction during the visit with Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, who Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies saw as lecturing and soft on their rival Iran. Trump praised el-Sissi for the April release of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi, detained in the country for almost three years.

"America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens", Trump said.

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El-Sissi invited Trump to visit him in Egypt, adding, "You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible". Obama called for understanding and acknowledged some of America's missteps in the region. His comments were echoed by Saudi King Salman, who declared, "The Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism".

"I agree", the president responded.

She praised the entrepreneurial spirit of Saudi Arabians and thanked the royal family for welcoming her and President Trump to the country.

"We want foreign companies to look at Saudi Arabia as a platform for exports to other markets", Falih told a conference attended by dozens of USA executives.

The arms deals, plus other investments that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said could total US$350 billion (S$480 billion), were the central achievement of Mr Trump's first day in Riyadh last Saturday, the first stop on a nine-day journey through the Middle East and Europe.

Even as it sought USA investment on Saturday, Riyadh made two announcements on plans to deploy its own financial reserves for projects that would cement economic ties with the United States. He's been besieged by a series of revelations about the ongoing federal investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation and his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the Russian Federation probe. But he did make a brief utterance to the press pool, deeming the proceedings "a tremendous day".

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