Obama in Egypt to reach out to world Muslims
Published: Jun 04, 2009 05:32 PM Updated: May 25, 2011 12:47 PM

US President Barack Obama said after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Thursday that the United States is committed to partnership with the Middle East countries to help meet all sides' aspiration.

"America is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so that all people can meet their aspirations," Obama, who arrived Thursday morning in Cairo to continue his Middle East tour, told reporters.

He said he and Mubarak have discussed a wide range of issues, including the situation of the Israelis and Palestinians and how to bring about peace and prosperity to the region in a constructive way.

Obama's Cairo tour will be peaked by his much-awaited keynote speech to the Muslim world, which he promised during his election campaign as a move to reach out to the Muslims to mend the US-Muslim ties tarnished by his predecessor's administration.

The speech will be delivered at Cairo University at about 1:10 p.m. (1010 GMT), according to a schedule obtained by Xinhua.

Obama said he looked forward to delivering the speech in Cairo University.

On his part, Mubarak said he has discussed with Mubarak the Palestinian issue and the Iranian nuclear file, adding there will be more meeting between them in Egypt or in the US soon.

Obama's long-awaited speech, or his reach out Muslim policy at large, has raised high expectations from many Muslims.

In a wide-ranging speech made at the Turkish parliament on April 6, Obama said "the United States is not and will never be at war with Islam," which is lauded by Cairo as the "first and significant" step for easing the tensions between the United States and the Muslim world.

However, analysts said Obama's address in Cairo is unlikely to lay out a clear-cut Middle East policy, but set to highlight a new US approach "based on mutual interest and mutual respect," as he said during his inaugural address, to mend the frayed relationship left by his predecessor George W. Bush who embraced a "go it alone" style.

"The speech will outline his personal commitment to engagement, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said before Obama left Washington.


Obama is far more favored by people in the Muslim world than Bush. According to a BBC poll, 58 percent of Egyptians, 51 percent of Turks and 64 percent of Indonesians believe that Obama will improve US relations with the rest of the world.

Obama has repeatedly voiced his support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and called on Israel to stop settlements as a prelude.

Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 18 to freeze all settlement construction, including the "natural growth" of existing ones, while asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on May 28 to halt the incitement of anti-Israeli sentiments, in a bid to clear the atmosphere in the region.

The speech would also cover the Iranian issue, of which Obama hoped that progress would be made by the end of this year, according to his recent interview with BBC.

But Obama also told the broadcast that "no one speech is going to solve every problem."

Obama's choice of Egypt for his landmark speech is out of the consideration that the country "in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world," according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Egypt, which inked a peace treaty with Israel three decades ago, acts as a key player in the regional issues. In addition to being a peacemaker of the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli talks, the country has hosted five rounds of inter-Palestinian talks to iron out rifts between two mainstream Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas for a unity government.

The venue of the speech, Cairo University, ranked second in the country and 10th in Africa, was founded on Dec. 21, 1908 as a result of the efforts to establish a national center for education. It has been a prime indigenous model for other state universities in the region.

Cairo is the second leg of Obama's Middle East tour. On Wednesday, he held talks in Riyadh with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, an oil power and US regional ally which proposed the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002.

Shortly following Obama's arrival in Riyadh, al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden said in a tape broadcasted by pan-Arab TV channel al-Jazeera that US President Barack Obama will follow the steps of his predecessor George W. Bush.

The terrorist head threatened to revenge Americans for the consequences of their administration's policies.

Obama's Cairo visit is also part of a Mideast-Europe tour which will also take him to Germany and France.

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