U.S. President Barack Obama says he will work to show the Muslim world that Americans are not their enemy.
In his first formal interview - granted to an Arab television network - the American leader said his job is also to show Americans that people in the Muslim world simply want to live their lives and make better lives for their children.
Speaking on Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television, Mr. Obama pointed out that he has lived in Muslim countries and has Muslim family members.
As for Islamist terrorists, he said their ideas are bankrupt. He said nothing they have done has ensured that a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education, or has better health care.
Mr. Obama also repeated his inaugural address pledge to extend a hand to countries such as Iran if they are - as he said - "willing to unclench their fist."
He said the United States must be willing to engage in diplomacy with Iran and promised to lay out a general framework and approach over the next several months.
Asked about the president's comments Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is up to Iran to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community.
As for the current standoff between Israel and Hamas, he said "the moment is ripe" for Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace, but he added that all parties in the region must play a role in the process.
Mr. Obama said it is not possible to think of the Middle East without looking at the region as a whole, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan, for he said they are all interrelated.
He also said he plans to follow through on a promise to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital.