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Report: Obama to deliver speech to Muslim world

May 12, 2011 12:53 A.M. (Updated: May 12, 2011 1:06 P.M.)
NEW YORK (AFP) -- President Barack Obama will deliver a speech reaching out to the Muslim world, in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden and amid ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Obama is preparing a wide-ranging address to be delivered as early as next week in which he'll make the case that bin Laden's death, paired with popular uprisings sweeping the region, underscores the US view that the Al-Qaeda extremist group is a spent force in the Muslim world.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House, told the newspaper that the speech was likely to be delivered before Obama departs on a five-day trip to Europe on May 23 -- not quite three weeks after bin Laden's demise in a US commando raid in Pakistan.

"It's an interesting coincidence of timing -- that he is killed at the same time that you have a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden's model," Rhodes told the newspaper.

Officials said that the president will make the case that bin Laden represented a failed approach of the past while populist movements brewing in the Middle East and North Africa represent the future.

The president has stressed outreach to Muslims during his tenure in the White House, and plans to describe the Islamic world as at a crossroads, US officials told the Journal.

The speech comes at a time of great tumult throughout the Muslim world, with popular uprisings overthrowing longtime dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and unrest threatening governments in Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Jordan.
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