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Trump: Reasons for 'Hope' of Middle East Peace


Saudi King Salman presents President Donald Trump with The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump continued his first international trip as president Monday. He arrived in Israel, saying his visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend gives him hope for securing Middle East peace.

Trump said Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz told him that the Saudis want peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and unified efforts against threats from Iran.

“During my travels in recent days, I have found new reasons for hope,” the president said in a short speech on his arrival in Israel.

Trump started his trip in Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam. There, he received a warm welcome from Arab leaders. He expressed U.S. support for slowing Iranian influence and preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons.

In a speech to a group of Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Trump urged a new effort to stop the killing of innocent people in the name of religion.

“Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith. Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.”

Trump suggested during his speech that he would not follow former President Barack Obama in pressuring Middle East leaders over human rights reforms.

“We are not here to lecture -- we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values.”

But Trump criticized Iran, which just re-elected its moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

“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. “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

During his visit, Trump announced $110 billion in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

But in Iran, President Rouhani rejected Trump’s criticism of his country. He accused the U.S. government of supporting terrorism by helping rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rouhani said, “Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran? Who fought against the terrorists? It was Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia. But who funded the terrorists?”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Trump has expressed optimism that he could help negotiate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Earlier presidents have failed to do so. Speaking in Israel, he said one reason is that concerns about Iran are making nations more willing to work with Israel.

“What's happened with Iran has brought many of the parts of the Middle East toward Israel," Trump said during a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall Monday in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall Monday in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Tuesday, he is to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is travelling with Trump. He said the United States would take a more active part in peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians if both sides show a willingness to negotiate peace.

Steve Herman reported on this story for VOANews.com. Bruce Alpert adapted this story, and added additional reporting from the Associated Press, Reuters and other sources, for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

invoke - v. to mention someone or something in an attempt to make people feel a certain way or have a certain idea in their mind

worship - v. to pray

lecture - n. a talk that criticizes someone's behavior in an angry or serious way

chaos - n. complete confusion and disorder

sectarian - adj. relating to religious or political sects and the differences between them

stability - n. the quality or state of being stable

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