Tillerson: Focus on terrorism in Saudi Arabia will lead to improvements in human rights

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday Saudi Arabia can ease tensions in the region by focusing on the fight against terrorism, ultimately leading to improvements in human rights issues.

“I think the way you address those human rights issues and women’s rights issues is to improve conditions in the region. And today those conditions in the region are under a lot of stress because of the threat of terror,” Tillerson told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The threat that Iran poses to the instability in the region. And these subjects are being discussed as well,” he added. 


Tillerson said that while efforts are underway to improve women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, the primary focus is terrorism.

“There are efforts underway to, I think, improve the rights of women — the participation of women in society and throughout the region. But you know the primary reason we are here today is to confront this threat of terrorism,” Tillerson added.

Trump harshly criticized former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for engaging with Saudi Arabia.

“You talk about women and women’s rights? So these are people that push gays off business, off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly and yet you take their money,” Trump said during the third presidential debate in October 2016. “So I’d like to ask you right now why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly?”

Trump’s highly anticipated speech on Sunday does not address human rights issues, according to reports about drafts of his speech.

Tillerson on Sunday said Trump’s visit is “historic,” adding that it has led to a “very productive discussion of how to counter terrorism” and bring more stability to the region.

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