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President Obama arrived Wednesday in this desert capital bedecked with American flags and the green banner of the Saudi kingdom, saying he wanted to launch a five-day trip to the Middle East and Europe in "the place Islam began."
At a tarmac welcoming ceremony, Obama was greeted by the 84-year-old Saudi leader. The two strode down a red carpet lined by ranks of Saudi soldiers, U.S. and Saudi flags flying taut in a brisk, dry wind. A military band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Shortly after Obama landed in the Saudi capital, the television network Al-Jazeera aired a new audiotape, reportedly from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, saying Obama was planting seeds for "revenge and hatred" toward the United States in the Muslim world.
Of a total population of about 65 million, more than 46 million people - all those over 15 - are eligible to vote. Some eight million of them were born after the 1979 revolution.
Voter turnout hit a record high at 80% in the 1997 elections which delivered a landslide victory for reformist President Mohammad Khatami. Women and young people were key to the vote.
But with disillusionment growing, only about 60% of the electorate voted in the final round of the 2005 election which brought hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
State-run TV in Iran has begun showing live debates between presidential candidates 10 days ahead of elections.
In the first debate, ex-Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai pledged to move away from state economic control and encourage the private sector.
National Trust party leader Mehdi Karroubi countered that he would distribute the profits of oil earnings to every Iranian adult.
The second of six live head-to-head sessions takes place on Wednesday.
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, faced a rare backlash from some of the country's most powerful officials today after a furious television debate in which he labelled many of his critics corrupt.
In the most significant development, Ahmadinejad appeared to have irked the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, over his performance in Wednesday night's debate with Mir Hossein Mousavi, his main opponent in next week's presidential election.
President Barack Obama addressed a wide array of issues, including the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in his address to Muslims in Cairo Thursday. (June 4)
U.S. President Barack Obama's speeches regularly command considerable attention in Kenya, where he has long been adopted as a native son. The president's Cairo speech was being watched particularly closely by Kenya's sizable Muslim community.
President Obama's Kenyan father, born in the western village of Kogelo, has become an integral part of the president's personal narrative. And early on in his speech at Cairo University, President Obama drew on a particular angle of his Kenyan heritage, noting there are many Muslims on his father's side of his family.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and China should consider switching to domestic currencies in bilateral trade without going to the dollar, Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Kommersant daily published on Friday.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog has discovered traces of processed uranium at a second site in Syria, the agency said on Friday, heightening concern about possible undeclared atomic activity in the Arab state.
TextAt least 31 people have died in clashes in Peru between the security forces and indigenous people in the Amazon region.
Those killed included at least 22 tribesmen and nine policemen. The violence took place as security forces tried to end a road blockade.
There have been fuel and transport blockades in Peru's Amazon region for almost two months.
Local people say new laws will make it easier for foreign companies to exploit their land for natural resources.
China imports Iran's oil at the rate of 450,000 barrels per day, making the country the second-largest buyer of Iranian crude after Japan, says an official.
Managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Seyfollah Jashnsaz, who is on a visit to Beijing, said that Iran is one of the main suppliers of oil to China. He added that the two states are increasing their cooperation in the oil and gas sector after Tehran has replaced France's Total with a Chinese company in the development of phase 11 of Iran's South Pars gas field.
"Signing the deal has meant the replacement of French Total Company with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)," Jashnsaz said. Iran says it is replacing Total because the French company has wasted too much time on the project.
Oil and natural gas of the Caspian states seems to be of strategic significance for the West, Richard Morningstar, the US special envoy for Eurasian energy issues said. Why does the US administration show so much interest in the Caspian Sea region? Does it mean that US army bases will soon be deployed there?
Moscow remains implacably opposed to Georgian membership in NATO, a policy strongly promoted by the previous administration at the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest. Azerbaijan, which along with Russia has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program since 1994, has never sought entry into the alliance. While Georgia is key to Azerbaijan's prosperity, as the $3.6 billion, 1,092-mile, 1 million-barrel-per-day Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline remains the country's main export route, Baku is profoundly aware of Russia's continuing "privileged interests" in the Caucasus, and, unlike Georgia, adjusts its foreign policy to avoid provoking its giant northern neighbor.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Changeman!
The historic significance of President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated. Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. Obama directly enlisted a religion to build global peace and to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, end nuclear proliferation and stop terrorism.
In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the "Clash of Civilizations," which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved.
A CNN headline, reporting Obama's plans for his June 4 address in Cairo, Egypt, reads "Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world." Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.
Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to "point fingers" at each other or to "see this conflict only from one side or the other."
There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.
Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.
Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as "an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities." How should the Obama administration see it?
Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the initiative reiterates the longstanding international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June 1967) border, perhaps with "minor and mutual modifications," to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s. That's when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the Arab "confrontation states" (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative, except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political deal.
Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The initiative cannot be a "beginning" if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.
In the background is the Obama administration's goal, enunciated most clearly by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the "moderate" Arab states against Iran. The term "moderate" has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.
What is Israel to do in return for Arab steps to normalize relations? The strongest position so far enunciated by the Obama administration is that Israel should conform to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, which states: "Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." All sides claim to accept the Road Map, overlooking the fact that Israel instantly added 14 reservations that render it inoperable.
The Interior Minister of the volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, known for his brutal and indiscriminate fight against radical Islamists, was killed Friday afternoon in the republic's capital, Makhachkala.
Iran has found its long-sought-after partner to help develop part of the world's largest natural-gas field, even as the possibility of linking it to a future pipeline to Europe seemed to rise. China came out the big winner on June 3 when representatives from the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) met in the Chinese capital and signed a $4.7 billion contract for developing Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field.