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World Leaders React to Obama’s Speech to Muslims in Cairo

President Obama delivered his long anticipated and historic speech on U.S.-Muslim relations Thursday in Cairo. Becoming the first American president to speak in the Arab Middle East before Israel, Obama called for a new beginning, saying the "cycle of suspicion and discord must end." He touched on a variety of topics, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, Obama affirmed his call for a two-state solution but said there can be no peace until the Palestinians renounce violence against Israel, and Israel stops expanding settlements in the West Bank. Reaction is coming in from all over the Middle East and around the world. Here's what they are saying:

"The nations in the region hate the United States from the bottom of their hearts because they have seen violence, military intervention and discrimination. The new U.S. government seeks to transform this image. I say firmly, that this will not be achieved by talking, speech and slogans."
--Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader

"The part of Obama's speech regarding the Palestinian issue is an important step under new beginnings. It shows there is a new and different American policy toward the Palestinian issue... His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians... is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
-- Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

"The government of Israel expresses hope that President Obama's important speech will lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world, and Israel. We share Obama's hope that the American effort will bring about an end to the conflict and to pan-Arab recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. Israel is obligated to peace and will do as much as possible to help expand the circle of peace, while taking into consideration our national interests, the foremost of which is security."
--Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister

"There is a change between the language of President Obama and previous speeches made by George Bush. So all we can say is that there is a difference in the statements, and the statements of today did not include a mechanism that can translate his wishes and views into actions... It had many contradictions, all the while reflecting tangible change. It is a speech that plays on sentiment and is filled with civilities, which leads us to believe that he aimed to embellish America's image in the world."
--Fawzi Barhum, Hamas spokesman

The Islamic world does not need moral or political sermons. It needs a fundamental change in American policy beginning from a halt to complete support for Israeli aggression on the region, especially on Lebanese and Palestinians, to an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and a stop to its interference in the affairs of Islamic countries. We have not seen any change in U.S. policy towards the Palestinian cause.
-- Hassan Fadlallah, Hezbollah spokesman

"The speech was historic and important and reflects a positive direction for the new administration (in Washington) and it is a new start. The government of Iraq is comfortable with the clarity of the president in respecting commitments to Iraq and the timetable for withdrawal stipulated in the security pact. I think there is clear support of a right for a Palestinian state, and their right for a life, but Arabs are waiting for pressure to be exerted on Israel so it can stop its violations in Gaza and the West Bank."
-- Ali Al-Dabbagh, Iraqi government spokesman

"I can't say I am overwhelmingly impressed by the speech. The strongest point was probably that the situation of the Palestinians is intolerable. I would have liked to see a more specific addressing of the question of Gaza, and the ongoing blockade of Gaza, the lack of availability of reconstruction materials."
-- Issandr El-Armani, Egyptian political analyst

"It is the first time I have ever heard such affectionate words from an American for Muslims," he said. "Apparently we can expect America to try to befriend the Muslim world in deeds as well. But let's see how long it will take to see this on the ground."
--Zahid Husain Gardezi, Pakistan resident

"Change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of
publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years
of mistrust, nor can answer in the time that I have this afternoon all
the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced
that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the
things we hold in our hears and that too often are said only behind
closed doors."

-- President Obama


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