US President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed to forge a “new beginning” for Islam and America in a landmark speech to the world’s Muslims, evoking a vision of peace after a smouldering cycle of “suspicion and discord.”
In what may be a defining moment of his presidency, Obama laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, vowing to end mistrust, forge a Palestinian state and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.
“So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace,” said Obama, who was greeted with a standing ovation as he stepped up to the podium at Cairo University.
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Obama’s long-awaited speech fulfilled a campaign promise and came after he held talks in Saudi Arabia Wednesday with King Abdullah and Thursday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak aimed at reviving Middle East peace moves.
In the university’s imposing domed Great Hall, Obama said the US bond with Israel, the source of much Arab distrust of the United States, was unbreakable, and rejected “ignorant” rants by those who deny the Nazi Holocaust.