On Saudi Arabia visit, Donald Trump to ask Muslim world leaders to 'sign a pledge' to make extremism illegal

Washington: When US President Donald Trump travels to Saudi Arabia to address the Muslim world this week, participating leaders would be asked to sign a pledge to make it "illegal" in their country to fund outfits that promote extremism and terrorism.

File image of Donald Trump. Reuters

File image of Donald Trump. Reuters

Leaders of more than 50 countries, most of them Muslim majority ones, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, are scheduled to attend the meeting convened by Saudi Arabia. Trump would address the gathering on Sunday.

The pledge would have a far-reaching implications on countries like Pakistan, where fundraising for extremist organisations is common and at times supported by the ruling establishment.

While the pledge would not be legally binding, it would be used for making these countries accountable by the Trump administration, which has made the fight against terrorism a priority, a senior administration official said.

"One of the other things (we are) doing on this trip is to get a lot of countries to sign a pledge to make it illegal in their countries to fund organisations that promote extremism and terrorism. Once we have that we are going to try to figure out where the grey is," an administration official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that White House has been working "very hard" on this. "Because we want the countries to make a choice, do you want to be good, do you want to be gray or do you want to be bad? We are not going to allow people not to choose their destinations. I am not saying that check this box. (But) we intend to go to these countries and say 'look you told us that you would do these things, and these are the things we see you doing. Are you going to stop them?'" the official said.

According to the official, many of these countries are doing what they are because of the circumstances they are in. "What we find that a lot of these countries find in the gray because the people next to them... compete with them... playing in the gray and they are scared to jump. And we feel that if we can get all of them to commit to doing that, we would have a real chance of making progress," the official said.

The official, who has been part of the planning of Trump's maiden overseas trip, acknowledged that a lot of people would say that such a pledge is destined to fail. But, he added, there's no harm in trying. "A lot of these countries are saying that they want to be on the good side and cooperate with America. So our job is to take that and then really verify and hold them accountable to them not doing that, and be very honest with them," the official said.

"We want to keep a 100 per cent success as our objective and work as hard as we can to get there," the official said.

Updated Date: May 18, 2017 07:04 AM

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