US President Barack Obama speaks with the Commander of US Forces in South Korea General Skip Sharp (2nd L) after arriving in Seoul yesterday on the eve of the G20 Summit. Before coming here, during his Indonesia visit, he hails Indonesia as a model for world.Photo: AFP
President Barack Obama said yesterday much more needs to be done to repair frayed US relations with the Muslim world in an acknowledgement of the difficulties in eradicating "years of mistrust."
In a speech highlighting a nostalgic visit to Indonesia, where he spent four years as a young boy, Obama spoke fondly of his formative years in the world's most populous Muslim country.
"Indonesia is a part of me," said Obama, who left around 10:45 am (10:45 pm ET) for the G20 summit in South Korea, the next stop on a 10-day Asia tour.
His speech was an update to a major address he gave 17 months ago in Cairo where he declared a "new beginning" in US-Muslim relations after the tensions over the September 11, 2001, attacks and the Bush government's response to them.
Since his Cairo address, irritants remain on both sides. al-Qaeda still seeks to attack its Western enemies. Little progress has been made in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and US troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Confidence in Obama has dropped in many Muslim nations as a result.
"In the 17 months that have passed we have made some progress, but much more work remains to be done," Obama said.
Obama said "no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust" but he promised, "No matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we have done. That is what we will do."
On the Middle East specifically, Obama said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process faces "enormous obstacles" after he relaunched talks in September only to see the dialogue bogged down over disputes between the parties.
"But let there be no doubt: we will spare no effort in working for the outcome that is just, and that is in the interest of all the parties involved: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."