Obama says can 'win respect of Muslim world again'

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."

Obama says can 'win respect of Muslim world again'

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy."

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."

Obama called for a new partnership with the Muslim world "based on mutual respect and mutual interest." He talked about growing up in Indonesia, the Muslim world's most populous nation, and noted that he has Muslim relatives.

The new U.S. president, who took office last Tuesday, said he had begun to fulfill his campaign promises by naming former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell as Mideast peace envoy and sending him to the region within days of becoming president. Mitchell was traveling to the region on Monday evening.

"Sending George Mitchell to the Middle East is fulfilling my campaign promise that we're not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with Palestinian and Israeli peace. We're going to start now," Obama said.

He also praised Saudi King Abdullah for the peace initiative he put forward, which calls for Arab peace with Israel in exchange for withdrawal for territories occupied since 1967.

"I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage to put forward something that is as significant as that," Obama said. "I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace."

He urged people in the Muslim world to judge him by his actions, pointing to the decision to close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, where US "enemy combatants" are being held. He said he also would begin to follow through on his pledge to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq.

On Iran, Obama said he believed it was important to use all the tools of U.S. power with Tehran, including diplomacy.

"It is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but (also) where there are potential avenues for progress," he said, adding that the administration would lay out its approach in the next few months.

"If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us," he said.


Agencies

Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2009, 17:05
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