News / Middle East

Obama to Deliver Mideast Policy Address

President Barack Obama, May 11, 2011
President Barack Obama, May 11, 2011

The White House confirmed Wednesday that President Barack Obama will deliver a speech, possibly before his upcoming European trip, to renew his outreach to the Muslim world and lay out his vision for the Middle East amid ongoing popular uprisings there.  

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed earlier news reports that Mr. Obama plans to deliver what will be the second major address of his presidency directed broadly to the Muslim world as well as to people in the Middle East.

"The president will be giving an address in the relatively near future on the Middle East and U.S. policy in the Middle East," said Carney. "I think it is a speech to a broader audience than just the Arab world."

Carney did not give a date for the speech, but he said it would be "relatively soon."  There are indications that Mr. Obama could deliver it before he departs on a trip to Britain, France and Poland, less than two weeks from now.

President Obama's plan for an address about developments in the Middle East was signaled in April by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she spoke to the Muslim-American World Forum here in Washington.

Statements by White House officials in recent months have framed themes Mr. Obama will likely sound in his address.

One is that uprisings in North Africa and the Mideast signal a new era that will work against extremist views, including efforts by al-Qaida to speak for the needs and aspirations of Muslims.

A Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday quoted Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, referring to a "coincidence of timing" with the killing of Osama bin Laden and "a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden's model."  

In 2009, Mr. Obama delivered a speech in Cairo in which he addressed change in the region, and said violent extremism must be confronted "in all of its forms."

It is unclear whether President Obama will use the address to make new proposals aimed at reviving the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.  

Efforts to remove obstacles to Mideast peace have been complicated by a recent decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas in Gaza.  The United States and the European Union have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

On May 24 during his visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.S. Congress.  

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