Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Air Force One that President Trump’s views on Islam “continue to evolve.”
The comments come as Trump landed in Israel on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. One reporter asked Tillerson if Trump still believes Islam “hates us,” as he had peddled during the campaign. Tillerson gave the following response:
“I think the president’s views like we hope the American people’s views, are going to continue to evolve. And I think an important part of this trip, one of the takeaways, my observations — again I hope it’s something that translates back, not just to the American people but to the Muslim world as well — we need to put a lot more effort into understanding one another better.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Tillerson further adds:
“Understanding each other’s cultures, understanding each other’s beliefs, and I think talking more openly about those, I think there’s a great deal that’s misunderstood about the Muslim world, by Americans and the Western world.
[The President] is increasing his own perspectives. Nothing helps you learn and understand people better than coming to their homes, where they live and seeing them face to face, seeing their families, and seeing their communities, finding out we all share the same wants and desires for ourselves and our people, and our families: peace, prosperity, we want our children to grow up without fear. That’s such a strongly held view around the world, certainly among the Muslim world certainly among the non-Muslim world.”
Regarding Israeli-Palestinian relations, Tillerson said the following:
“We have the opportunity to advance the peace discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think the president has indicated he’s willing to put his own personal efforts into this. If the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership are ready to be serious about engaging as well. So that is going to be an important element of the visit.”
Tillerson also further reassured that Trump’s visit to Israel is not an apology tour, after reports were released last week that the President shared Israeli provided intelligence on ISIS to Russian officials:
“I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for. To the extent the Israelis have any questions, or clarification, I’m sure we’re happy to provide that.”
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