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Obama Meets Mubarak Ahead Of Cairo Speech


U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo on June 4.

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo on June 4.

CAIRO (Reuters) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has discussed efforts to achieve Middle East peace in Egypt before a planned address that is regarded as crucial to his efforts to repair U.S. ties with Muslims.

His speech is aimed at more than 1 billion Muslims across the world, but choosing Cairo underscores his focus on the Middle East, where he faces big foreign policy challenges.

Obama wants to build a coalition of Muslim governments that will back his efforts to revive stalled Middle East peace talks and help the United States curb Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West says is to build bombs.

"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.

"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.

Obama acknowledged this week that it would take more than a speech to reconcile the United States and the Muslim world. Many Muslims share that view and say they want actions, particularly to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Highlighting the hostility Obama faces from some quarters, the supreme leader of Washington's arch regional foe, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in an address America was "deeply hated" and only action, not "slogans," could change that.

When asked by a reporter if he discussed Iran with Mubarak, Obama said: "You name it, we discussed it."

U.S. officials told reporters on June 3 that Obama would talk candidly and thoroughly about issues that had "caused tensions between the United States and the Muslim world," including explaining his policies toward Afghanistan and Iraq.
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