U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in a video address posted on the White House website.
Mr. Obama begins the video greeting with wishes for a blessed month for Muslims worldwide. "On behalf of the American people, including Muslim communities in all 50 states, I want to extend best wishes to Muslims in American and around the world. Ramadan Kareem," he said.
In the nearly five minute message, Mr. Obama mentions U.S. initiatives to isolate violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"All of these efforts are a part of America's commitment to engage Muslims and Muslim-majority nations on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect. And at this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world," he said.
Mr. Obama's Ramadan message is intended to build on the goodwill generated by his June speech in Cairo to the Muslim world. He says U.S. embassies around the world have reached out to people in Muslim-majority countries in the past two months, to learn how America can find common ground with them. "We have listened. We have heard you. And like you, we are focused on pursuing concrete actions that will make a difference over time, both in terms of the political and security issues that I have discussed, and in the areas that you have told us will make the most difference in people's lives," he said.
The president is also promoting U.S. consultations with Muslim nations on initiatives in education, science, medicine and the economy.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It marks the time more than 1,400 years ago when Muslims believe the words of Islam's holy book, the Koran, were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.