FOREIGN POLICY

Tillerson: Focus of Saudi visit is ending terrorism, essential to improving human rights

President Trump while in Saudi Arabia is getting “concrete commitments” from Persian Gulf leaders to end radical Islamic terrorism but is not pressing the issue of human rights violations in the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday.

“There are concrete commitments being made as to how we will work together to defeat Daesh, to defeat terrorism here in the region as well as elsewhere,” Tillerson told “Fox News Sunday.”

Tillerson used the word Daesh, instead of "the Islamic State" or "ISIS," the names Trump frequently has used to describe the terrorist group that has taken control of parts of Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab World.

Trump, who during his president campaign and presidency has been outspoken about the Muslim religion, has made the focus of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia getting the Arab world to stop radical Islamic terrorism.

However, he has publically avoided mentioning the free world’s concerns about the region’s shortcoming on woman and human right’s violations.

Tillerson argued Sunday that the issues are in fact being discussed and that stopping terrorism is the first step.

“The way you address those human rights issues and women’s rights issues is to improve the conditions in the region,” he said.

“And today, conditions in the region are under a lot of stress because of the threat of terrorism (and) the threat that Iran poses. ... But the primary reason we’re here today is to confront this threat of terrorism. If we do not defeat Daesh, if we do not defeat these forces of evil, there will be no conditions under which we could even hope to improve the human rights for all the people of the region.”

Former President Barack Obama's calls for greater democray in the region were not not well received with leaders.  

Trump, Tillerson and other top administration officials arrived Saturday in Saudi Arabia for the start of Trump’s first overseas presidential trip.

The nine-day trip will also include stops in Israel, the Vatican in Rome and Brussels.

Tillerson argued the meeting Sunday in Riyadh of the Gulf Cooperation Council is a major step toward dismantling radical Islamic terrorism and that leaders plan to meet again next year to learn whether they have made progress on the issue.