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Trump Spends A Second Day In Saudi Arabia


Drive them out. That was what President Trump called on Arab and Muslim leaders to do with extremists. He was speaking in an ornate ballroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was part of the Saudi stage of the first international trip by the president since he took office. He said they must be unified in the fight against terrorists, and he called on the leaders to do more.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your Holy Land and drive them out of this Earth.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Jane Arraf is in Riyadh, and she joins us now. Good morning.

JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So President Trump covered a lot of topics. What were his main points?

ARRAF: Well, his main points were basically he really valued the importance of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and the Muslim world which, of course, is music to everyone's ears. He ended with Iran. They probably would have liked to hear a little bit more of the threat from Iran because they see that as the biggest threat. And he also talked about how this was basically a new era, that the United States was not going to go in and tell countries what to do. And by the same token, it expected them to fight their own battles against extremism.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What was the reaction? I, mean you were in the room. Did he get applause?

ARRAF: He did. He got applause. He would have gotten applause anyway because it's a very polite crowd. He did not get a standing ovation, but then no one really expected that with almost 40 leaders there. And one Saudi official said it was a fantastic speech. So I think it goes back, Lulu, to the fact that Saudi Arabia and the royal family and Trump and his family really have a little bit in common. They're very pragmatic, they believe in family businesses and there was really a lot of common ground there. So it was well received.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the things that President Trump made very clear is that they were not going to be going in and trying to change things in these countries. There was no use of words like democracy or human rights. That must have been welcome also to some of these leaders.

ARRAF: Absolutely. Because it's a contrast, for one thing with President Obama who actually did air those grievances publicly. You saw it almost every step of the way in this visit in the arms deals that were signed after the previous administration had lost some of those sales with concerns over high civilian casualties. He thought in the speech itself - in the ballroom in which Trump basically made clear he was not going to tell other countries how to live their lives, and it was basically hands-off.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are about to see the president attend a conference on social media in the Arab world. He has a famous use of Twitter with mixed success. What is this meant to highlight?

ARRAF: Well, this particular event is actually meant to highlight the changes basically in a very conservative kingdom. On the forum right now, for instance, there are female executives. We heard this morning from a princess who was on a roundtable with the president's daughter. And as she pointed out, they weren't talking about hair and makeup. They were talking about opportunities for women and a lot of the things that men would be talking about. All bets are off when it comes to President Trump addressing this conference. He's expected to give brief remarks, but he hopefully will get some candid questions.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Jane Arraf in Saudi Arabia. Thank you.

ARRAF: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jane Arraf covers Egypt, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East for NPR News.