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Middle east

Obama to address Muslim world in June speech

Latest update : 2009-05-08

US President Barack Obama will deliver a speech in Egypt on June 4 aimed at launching a new era of relations and goodwill between the United States and the Muslim world, the White House has announced.

AFP - US President Barack Obama will make a fresh attempt to ease mistrust between the United States and the Muslim world with a long-awaited speech in Egypt on June 4, the White House said Friday.
   
Obama promised during his election campaign to give the speech before a major Islamic forum on US ties with the Islamic faith during his first 100 days in office, which expired last week,
   
Though Obama's timetable slipped slightly, he did make a closely watched statement in the Turkish parliament last month, declaring that the United States was not at war with Islam and noted his own partly Muslim heritage.
   
"On June 4, the president will give a speech in Egypt. The speech will be about America's relations with the Muslim world," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
   
Gibbs said the speech was a part of a "continuing effort by this president and this White House to demonstrate how we can work together to ensure the safety and security and the future wellbeing through hope and opportunity of the children of this country and of the Muslim world," Gibbs said.
   
"That's what the President promised to do when he promised to give this speech."
   
Gibbs said that the exact location of the speech had yet to be finalized, and defended Obama from claims that the choice of Egypt conflicted with the desire of US policymakers to promote democracy abroad.
   
"It is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world," Gibbs said. "I think it will be a terrific opportunity for the president to address and discuss our relationship with the Muslim world."
   
From the well of the Turkish parliament in April, Obama reached out to the Arab world, and is trying to coax US foe Iran into dialogue and is pushing strongly for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
   
"You cannot put out fire with flames," Obama said, arguing that brute force alone could not thwart extremism as he sent a flurry of coded messages throughout the Middle East.
   
Obama drew on his own biography as the son of a believer as he sought to forge new trust with the Islamic world, and portrayed Turkey as an example of a thriving Muslim nation where faith and democracy could thrive together.
   
The president said US ties with the Muslim world could not be simply defined by opposition to terrorism, decades into a US struggle with extremism that was sharpened by the September 11 attacks in 2001.
   
"The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them."
   
Within days of taking office in January, Obama launched his effort to engage the Muslim world by granting an interview with the Al-Arabiya television network.
 

Date created : 2009-05-08

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