Pool / Getty Images file
McMaster said the speech would be “inspiring yet direct.”
According to both Saudi and White House officials, the U.S. is expected to call on countries to sign on to a pledge aimed at cutting the funding and financing of terror institutions. This will prove extremely challenging for the U.S. and many of the countries attending the meeting who do not see eye to eye.
Saudi Arabia funds and backs schools, social programs and non-governmental organizations that have long been suspected of promoting an extreme version of Islam, Wahhabism. Qatar is also known to support Hamas, a group the U.S. designates a terrorist organization.
A senior White House official told NBC News that Saudi Arabia is supposed to announce that they will “stop funding radicalization.” Another senior White House official clarified to say the agreement would be to that effect and they will “work on enforcement mechanisms” later.
Pushing for Peace
The president is also expected to have a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the larger summit where peace between Israel and the Palestinians is certain to be a topic of conversation.
Senior Saudi officials expressed optimism over the success of Trump’s unconventional approach and pointed to the 2002 Arab Peace initiative as the start of a solution.
“We are in the forefront of pushing for peace in the Middle East,” said one Saudi official. “We will work with the administration and other regional partners to ensure that we have significant progress.”
Overall, the Trump administration sees the visit as a chance for the president to build a new relationship with the Arab world after a campaign heavy in anti-Muslim rhetoric and a controversial travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries. McMaster said “the president’s leadership has been welcomed enthusiastically” by Arab allies.
“There was a perception that America had largely disengaged from the Middle East in particular, and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region,” McMaster told reporters last week. “Now there’s a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that American leadership is necessary to help address this catastrophe and to begin to move the region toward the peace.”
But the view of Arab and Muslim government officials may differ from that of their citizens.
A recent poll by ASDA’A Burston-Marsteller, a public relations agency, found that
almost two thirds of Arab youth view Trump’s presidency with concern, anger or fear. An overwhelming majority of those polled think that Trump is anti-Muslim.