Updated at: 1705 PST, Thursday, June 04, 2009
CAIRO: The world must "confront violent extremism," US President Barack Obama said on Thursday in a much-anticipated speech in Cairo aimed at healing America's rift with the Islamic world."The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms," Obama said, repeating his declaration in Ankara in April that "America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam.""We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people."Barack Obama said the US bond with Israel is "unbreakable"."America's strong bonds with Israel are well known,” he said adding “this bond is unbreakable.""It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied," said Obama, who is to head to Germany's Buchenwald concentration camp after Egypt.
He said that denying the Holocaust is "baseless, ignorant, and hateful."The US President said his country does not want to keep its troops in Afghanistan."Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there."Obama said that the nuclear showdown with Iran had reached a decisive point but that Tehran had the right to peaceful nuclear power if it abided by international treaties.Obama, who broke with former US policy of isolating Tehran, said it would be hard to "overcome decades of mistrust" but he had made clear to Iran's leaders and people that the United States was prepared to move forward in relations with Iran."But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons we have reached a decisive point."This is not simply about America's interests.
It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path."In an apparent reference to Israel, believed to be only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, Obama said he understood protests "that some countries have weapons that others do not."He added that this was why he reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a nuclear-weapons-free world.He said that "any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."