President Trump met Monday with the leader of the United Arab Emirates, laying groundwork for his first foreign trip and a summit with Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia that is vital to his plan to confront radical Islamic terrorism.
The get-together with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan gave Mr. Trump an opportunity to build on a personal relationship and the longtime alliance between the two countries.
Mr. Trump will need all the insider support he can muster next week when he seeks to persuade Muslim countries to take on a larger role in combating the Islamic State and the influence of Iran, including cracking down on funding streams to radical Islamic groups that Muslim leaders often ignore.
As he welcomed Sheikh Mohammed into the Oval Office, Mr. Trump told reporters it was a “great honor” and gave a nod to their long relationship.
“He is special. I respect him, and I’ve known him for a long time,” said Mr. Trump.
He said the sheikh “loves his country. I can tell you that, loves his country. And I think [he] loves the United States, which to us is very important.”
Still, the topics up for discussion were difficult, including the civil war in Syria, the spread of radical Islam, the growing influence of Iran and the quest for Middle East peace.