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First Interview: Obama Tells Arab World US Wants to Be Friends

Granting his first official interview as president to Al-Arabiya, a major Dubai-based Arab network, Barack Obama reached out to the Muslim world telling them "the Americans are not your enemy."

Some highlights from yesterday's interview include:

  • On the US role in negotiating peace between Palestine and Israel: And so what I told him [Mideast envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating. . . . Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people.
  • On the notion of a Palestinian state: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I'm not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.
  • On al-Qaeda: They seem nervous . . . what that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt. There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better healthcare because of them.
  • On US relations with the Muslim world: My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.

Are you surprised that Obama chose an Arab network for his first TV interview?


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