Jan 28, 2009

World - Series of initiatives for Muslim world: Obama

Having dispatched a special envoy to the Middle East, the US President Barack Obama has said that his administration would be making a series of initiatives to reach out to the Muslim world in the coming days.

Addressing the Muslim world directly from the capital of an Islamic country would be the next move. "It is something that is going to be important," Obama said.

"I want people to recognise, though, that we are going to be making a series of initiatives," he said.

"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. It may take a long time to do, but we're going to do it now," Obama said.

"We're going to follow through on our commitment for me to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital. We are going to follow through on many of my commitments to do a more effective job of reaching out, listening, as well as speaking to the Muslim world," he said.

The President said he will also be seen following through with dealing with a drawdown of troops in Iraq, so that Iraqis can start taking more responsibility.

"And finally, I think you've already seen a commitment, in terms of closing Guantanamo, and making clear that even as we are decisive in going after terrorist organisations that would kill innocent civilians, that we're going to do so on our terms, and we're going to do so respecting the rule of law that I think makes America great," Obama said.

The US President also extended a hand of friendship to Iran, drawing upon his campaign statements that America will use all the tools of US power, including diplomacy, in its relationship with Iran.

"Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region," he said, pointing to Tehran's threats against Israel, its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and support of terrorist organisations.

"But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress.

"And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,"

Obama told Dubai-based 'Al-Arabiya' satellite television network, a week after his historic swearing-in as president.

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