RIYADH – Donald Trump is set to reboot the US-Muslim world relationship as the United States President arrived in this country Saturday, marking his first foreign destination.
He broke with tradition by not going to neighbouring countries such as Canada and Mexico first before heading for other countries like most of the past presidents did.
Instead he has chosen Saudi Arabia where he attended the Saudi Arabia-US Summit and the six-nation — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-Gulf Cooperation Council-US Summit Saturday.
More than 50 Arab and Muslim nation leaders including Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be joining Trump for the Arab-Islamic-US Summit, the first ever such summit, Sunday.
Trump has frequently been accused of fuelling Islamophobia during his presidential campaign with widely reported anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Then he began his presidency by imposing a temporary ban on Muslim refugees and visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“Riyadh’s visit, an opportunity for Trump to repair his image with the Muslim world,” said a diplomat from an ASEAN member country.
Riyadh also showed its leadership by hosting Muslim leaders for a summit with Trump in establishing a new partnership to confront extremism and terrorism; and promote the values of tolerance, coexistence and cooperation.
“They did not use the international multi-lateral platform such as Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as they just wanted to invite all OIC members minus the two — Iran and Syria — for the summit,” said the diplomat.
It is a big regional leadership role played by the Saudi Arabia in putting together an Islamic coalition partnering with the United States to counter terrorism.
Washington on the other hand needs the participation of the Muslim world in combating extremism and terrorism.
They are expected to address ways of building more robust and effective security partnership to counter and prevent the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism around the globe through the promoting of tolerance and moderation.
Trump will address the Arab-Islamic-United States Summit on Sunday and Najib is slated to share the rostrum too.
Najib is expected to share with the summit that the divide is not between East and West but moderates and extremists as well as terrorism did not associate with any religion — Islam, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and others.
The Prime Minister is also expected to touch on the need to address the root causes of terrorism including addressing the Palestinian issue.
He will share with the summit on the Kuala Lumpur’s initiative in combating terrorism including through deradicalisation programme and countering radical social media messages by presenting the true image of Islam through the Regional Digital Counter Messaging Communication Centre.
Another important aspect of combating terrorism is through cutting their funding, an initiative taken by Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, which is also expected to be highlighted by Najib during the Riyadh meeting.