Obama Gives First Interview to Arab TV

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CBNNews.com - President Barack Obama chose an Arabic network to give his first formal television interview as President, using the moment to tell the Muslim world that 'America is not your enemy.'

On the al-Aribiya news channel Tuesday, the President said he wants to repair relations between the U.S. and Muslims, calling for a new partnership between the two.

"My job," Obama told the Dubai-based network, "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."

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," he continued.

Obama said the U.S. would like to form a partnership with the Muslim world "based on mutual respect and mutual interest."

Discussing Israel

The President also reaffirmed that America remains an ally with Israel and discussed seeking peace in the Middle East.

To that end, Mideast envoy George Mitchell was dispatched to the region today in hopes of solidifying a recent cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

Mitchell's goal, Obama explained, is "to engage vigorously and consistently in order for us to achieve genuine progress. And when I say progress, not just photo ops, but progress that is concrete."

"What I told him is start by listening because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Obama said.

"We cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions," he said.

"But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people," he said.

Varied Reactions to Interview

Some, however, are less than enthusiastic over the President's peace initiative.

"Barack, you are confused," said one viewer in reaction to Tuesday's interview. "Peace is personally important for Israelis. They are the ones who have been aggressed for over 60 years. However, peace cannot be a suicide pact."

Another viewer said America's peace negotiations were little more than an attempt to "pressure Israel to make concessions, no matter what the Arabs say or do."

Not everyone was completely sour on the Arabic interview. One viewer, for instance, seemed to feel Obama has solid judgement regarding the situation in the Middle East.

Obama "unlike most, understands the difference between Palestinians who accept co existence and Palestinian Islamists and Islamist sympathizers who reject it," the viewer said.

"To continue to hold Israel responsible for the fanatical genocidal Islamist movement that is growing exponentially is propagating the 'big lie,'" The viewer charged. "Want peace? Convince the Muslims. The Jews have been ready for decades."

Mitchell is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Monday night.

Sources: The Associated Press, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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