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Obama Hosts Muslim Entrepreneurs

Tonight's gathering is a follow up to Mr. Obama's 2009 trip to Cairo, where he called for better ties with the Muslim world.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting a conference of more than 250 entrepreneurs, most from majority-Muslim countries, in the hope of promoting greater business ties between the United States and the Muslim world.

The two-day conference opening Monday in Washington is the fulfillment of a pledge Mr. Obama made last June in a speech in Cairo, Egypt to deepen U.S. engagement with Muslim-majority communities.

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters entrepreneurship is a "fundamental American value" and can unlock opportunities for people around the world.

The conference aims to bring together young start-up entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans, as well as government officials, bankers and other experts. Topics will include empowering businesswomen and creating a positive climate for new businesses.

Mr. Obama is expected to address the summit Monday night. Several Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are expected to participate.

The two-day summit opens big opportunities for U.S. firms that work with Muslim entrepreneurs. But Mr. Obama's initiative might be overshadowed by lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace track.

Entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries are to attend. Investors from Israel have also been invited to attend the summit.