White House officials say U.S. President Barack Obama will emphasize
his "personal commitment" to improving U.S. relations with Muslims
around the world in a long-awaited speech in Egypt on Thursday.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs briefed reporters Friday on the president's upcoming trip to the Middle East and Europe. He said Mr. Obama will deliver a speech Thursday, June 4, at Cairo University, which will be co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, one of the world's leading Islamic institutions of higher education.
Gibbs says the president will focus on his desire to engage with Muslim communities "based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."
Other White House officials say Mr. Obama will also address "tough issues," including violent extremism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While in Egypt, Mr. Obama also will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and visit a mosque.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough told reporters Friday that Egypt is a long-time strategic ally of the U.S. He called Egypt a key country in the Arab and Muslim world, with a burgeoning younger population.
President Obama will begin his trip with a stop in Saudi Arabia June 3, where he will meet with King Abdullah.
After leaving the Middle East, Mr. Obama travels to Germany June 5. He will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald.
The president will conclude his trip (June 6) with a visit to France to commemorate the anniversary of the World War II landing at Normandy with veterans from the U.S. and other key allied countries.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.