U.S. president’s aides have described trip as effort to reset relations with Muslim world
King Abdullah II of Jordan, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou are among leaders invited by Saudi King Salman for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Arab-Islamic-American Summit will be among a series of talks expected to be held in Riyadh on May 20-21, Saudi officials said. Trump has frequently been accused of fueling Islamophobia but aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world.
There will also be a separate meeting between monarchs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and Trump, as well as bilateral talks between the Saudi and U.S. leaders, Riyadh’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said.
In addition to heads of state from Jordan, Algeria and Niger, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that Salman asked Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to attend. The leaders of Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia have also received invitations, the Arab News daily reported on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia—which is home to Islam’s holiest sites—will be Trump’s first foreign stop since becoming president in January. “It is a clear message to the world that the United States and the Arab and Islamic countries can form a partnership,” Jubeir said in Washington, according to SPA. “We believe that it will strengthen cooperation between the United States and Arab and Islamic countries in the fight against terrorism and extremism, and the visit will have enormous benefits for the region and the world.”
The Saudis have found a more favorable ear in Washington under Trump, who has echoed their concerns about Iran’s influence in the region.