US President Donald Trump called on Arab leaders to do their fair share to "drive out" terrorism from their countries today in a speech that put the burden on the region to combat militant groups.

Mr Trump, who generated controversy with his push to ban many Muslims from entering the United States, described the fight against terrorism as a battle between good and evil rather than a clash of civilisations.

"America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them," Mr Trump told leaders of 55 Muslim majority countries representing more than a billion people.

"The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries and frankly for their families and for their children," he said.

"It's a choice between two futures and it’s a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists.

"Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth," he said.

Donald Trump and Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa
Donald Trump earlier met with the king of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa

Mr Trump's "America first" philosophy helped him win the 2016 election and has rattled allies who depend on US support for their defence.

The president, who is struggling to contain a brewing political scandal at home, made clear in his address that Washington would partner with the Middle East but expected more action in return.

"Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land," he said in Saudi Arabia, the first stop on a nine-day tour that includes Israel, Italy and Belgium.

The speech in a gilded hall bedecked with chandeliers is part of an effort to redefine his relationship with the Muslim world after Mr Trump frequently attacked Muslims on the campaign trail last year and tried to ban many from entering the United States.

Mr Trump received a warm welcome from Arab leaders, who set aside his campaign rhetoric and focused on his desire to crack down on Iran's influence in the region, a commitment they found wanting in former US president Barack Obama.

Mr Trump's signature phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" was not included in the speech, according to excerpts released in advance by the White House.

Instead, he used the term "Islamist extremism", which refers to Islamism as a political movement rather than Islam as a religion, a distinction that he had frequently criticised the administration of his predecessor Mr Obama for making.

As a candidate, Mr Trump proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.

In office he ordered temporary bans on people from certain Muslim-majority countries, which have been blocked by courts that ruled they were discriminatory.