In his first formal interview as president, Barack Obama sat down with an Arab television station to offer a welcoming message to the Muslim world. He first expressed his interest in reaching out to Muslims as president, and pursuing a different approach to foreign policy than his predecessor, in his inaugural address — the only inaugural speech ever to mention the subject.
“My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,” President Obama told Al Arabiya. “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.”
(Photo from Al Arabiya, Obama with news team Yamen Abdal Wahab, Nate McCray, Hisham Melhem and Muna Shikaki)
In the interview, conducted in the White House map room, President Obama also expressed his commitment to tackling the Middle East peace process immediately.
“Sending George Mitchell to the Middle East is fulfilling my campaign promise that we’re not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with Palestinian and Israeli peace, we’re going to start now,” he said. “It may take a long time to do, but we’re going to do it now.”
The interview is part of the President’s broader outreach to the Muslim world, which includes a promise to make a major address from the capital of a Muslim nation.
Al Arabiya is a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel based out of Dubai.