Tired Trump prays, denies giving Israel secrets to Russia

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Donald Trump becomes first sitting US president to visit Western Wall [AFP Photo]

President Trump mixed up the wording of some of his speech in Saudi Arabia Sunday because he was “exhausted,” a senior White House official said.

“He’s just an exhausted guy,” the official told reporters on background, explaining why Mr. Trump didn’t say “Islamic extremism” in his speech to leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority nations.

Instead, Mr. Trump departed ever so slightly from his prepared remarks, saying “Islamic extremism” rather than “Islamist.” He didn’t use the word “radical.”

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump criticized President Obama and others for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

The president was on the third day of a nine-day, whirlwind trip taking him to the Middle East and Europe, his first trip abroad as president.

Denies mentioning Israel in dealings with Russia

Meanwhile, Trump sought to defend himself against criticism that he provided Israeli intelligence to Russia as he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

Trump, responding to a journalist’s question on the subject alongside Netanyahu, said “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel.”

“Never mentioned during that conversation,” he said. “They’re all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

Netanyahu then said “intelligence cooperation is terrific. It’s never been better.”

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump revealed what it said was highly classified information on the Islamic State group during a recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Moscow’s Washington ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

It said that Trump told Lavrov about a specific IS bomb threat.

A US administration official confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity that the original intelligence came from Israel, which was initially reported by the New York Times.

After the news emerged, Trump took to Twitter to insist he had the “absolute right” to share “facts pertaining… to terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russia.

But the episode raised concerns that it could corrode trust among allies who shared classified information with the United States on the understanding that it will go no further.

Israel has sought to downplay the concerns, saying security ties with the United States will continue to be strong.

The United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defence aid, and the two countries share highly sensitive intelligence on common enemies.

Source: AFP, Washington Times