U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for a new beginning in relations between the United States and the world's one billion Muslims, saying the cycle of "suspicion and discord" must end.
In a speech at Cairo University Thursday, Mr. Obama said violent extremists have exploited tensions between Muslims and the West. He said the United States and the Muslim world must work together to confront extremism in all its forms.
Mr. Obama noted his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and to leave Iraq for Iraqis. He said the U.S. wants its troops in Afghanistan to return home too, but he says he is committed to continuing the fight against extremists there determined to kill Americans and others.
He called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a major source of tension and reiterated the need for a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel. President Obama says Palestinians must abandon violence and Israelis must acknowledge Palestine's right to exist.
Mr. Obama also said the United States is ready to move forward with Iran and overcome decades of mistrust.
In general, Mr. Obama said he is committed to supporting governments based on democratic ideals of justice, transparency, and freedom.
The president also called for religious tolerance and noted the importance of equality for women. His remarks in Egypt come as activists criticize the country's record on human rights and democracy.
President Obama concluded his speech saying a "new beginning" can only be achieved by working together and moving beyond the "fear" and "mistrust" of the past.
Prior to his speech, Mr. Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and said the U.S. is committed to a partnership with Mideast countries.
The president traveled to Egypt after meeting with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia.
After leaving Egypt, Mr. Obama heads to Germany and France, where he will meet with European leaders and attend ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day, the allied forces' landing in Normandy that helped lead to victory in World War II.