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5/9/17

Saudi Arabia: Why Donald Trump Could Find a Friend in Saudi Arabia

Donald Trump will arrive in Riyadh at the end of this month in his first foreign visit as U.S. president. He visits Saudi Arabia during a tour that will also take in the Vatican and Israel.

Speaking in Washington, Trump noted the religious symbolism of his trip to the Gulf monarchy—home to the two holiest sites in Islam—as well as the need to cooperate with Saudi Arabia on issues of security and counterterrorism.

“It is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries,” Trump said.

“It’s a clear and powerful message that the U.S. harbors no ill will toward the Arab and Muslim world,” Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said following Trump’s announcement, according to Reuters. "It also lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim.”

Earlier this year, the 57-nation and Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Conference said Trump’s travel ban on seven majority Muslim nations earlier this year would embolden radical extremists throughout the world.

But while the Saudi government did not comment on the ban, Saudi adviser Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud told Fox News in March that the Trump administration had told Saudi Arabia the measures were not a "Muslim ban" and the Saudi government "takes them at their word."

Read more: Why Donald Trump Could Find a Friend in Saudi Arabia

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