Anti-terror fight 'not a battle between different faiths': Trump

US President Donald Trump attends a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.
US President Donald Trump attends a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH (AFP) - US President Donald Trump will launch an appeal to confront "Islamist extremism" on Sunday (May 21), telling dozens of Muslim leaders in a speech that it "is not a battle between different faiths".

"This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it," Trump will say in Saudi Arabia, according to excerpts released by the White House.

"This is a battle between good and evil."

Trump's hardline attitude towards what he has previously called "radical Islamic terrorism" was one of the most controversial themes of his election campaign, particularly in the Muslim world. In his speech in Riyadh, he will instead urge Muslim leaders to confront "the crisis of Islamist extremism".

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

"Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory... If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief," he will add. "We are not here to lecture - we are not here to tell other people how to live... or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership - based on shared interests and values."

Trump will also appeal to countries in the Middle East to play their part in fighting extremism. "America is prepared to stand with you... But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them.

"The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children," he will say.