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Saudi Arabia Launches Islamic Counterterrorism Summit


Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has opened the first high-level meeting of a kingdom-led alliance of Muslim nations against terrorism, pledging that extremists will no longer "tarnish our beautiful religion."

Addressing the defense ministers and other high-ranking officials in Riyadh on November 26, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman said "the biggest danger of this terrorism and extremism is the tarnishing of the reputation of our beloved religion...We will not allow this to happen."

"Today we start the pursuit of terrorism and we see its defeat in many facets around the world, especially in Muslim countries," he said. "We will continue to fight it until we see its defeat."

The crown prince's words came as the extremist Islamic State group, which sparked the creation of the alliance, has been driven out of Iraq and lost its self-described capital in Syria.

However, the alliance doesn't include Iran, Iraq or Syria -- and member nation Qatar did not send anyone to attend the one-day gathering amid a diplomatic standoff between Doha and four Arab nations led by the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia announced the alliance in December 2015, when the crown prince was still only the kingdom's defense minister. Since then, his father King Salman has elevated the 32-year-old prince to be next in line for the throne.

Prince Mohammed said the 40 countries in the alliance were sending a "clear signal" that they would "work together to support the military, financial, intelligence and political efforts of every member state".

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
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