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Obama picks Egypt for Address to the Muslim World

Obama picks Egypt for Address to the Muslim World
WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama will make his long-awaited address to Muslims in Egypt on June 4, accelerating his bid to mend the U.S. image in the Islamic world from an epicenter of Arab civilization.

The speech, fulfilling an Obama campaign promise, will focus on how Americans and Muslims abroad can secure the “safety and security” of their children in a more hopeful future, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

“On June 4, the president will give a speech in Egypt. The speech will be about America’s relations with the Muslim world,” Gibbs said.
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As Obama tries to kick start Middle East peacemaking, the visit will follow trips to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.

Gibbs defended Obama from claims that by choosing Egypt, where the State Department says there are “significant restrictions on the political process and freedom of expression” the U.S. president was watering down U.S. support for democracy promotion 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.”

The president said U.S. ties with Islam could not be simply defined by opposition to terrorism, decades into a U.S. struggle with extremism that was sharpened by the Sepxember 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.”

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