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Wed 11 May 2011 10:06 PM

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US president plans address soon on Mideast policy

Barack Obama eyes speech on US policy in region as anti-government protests continue

US president plans address soon on Mideast policy
US president Barack Obama. (Getty Images)

President Barack
Obama plans an address soon on US policy in the Middle East as anti-government protests continue in the region, White House press secretary
Jay Carney said.

“It’s a
speech to a broader audience than just the Arab world,” Carney said at a
briefing in Washington. He didn’t give a timetable or location for the
address, saying it would be “in the relatively near future.”

The Obama
administration has reacted differently to uprisings in Arab countries
across the Middle East and North Africa that toppled governments in
Egypt and Tunisia and sparked an armed conflict in Libya.

While Obama
called for longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak to step down in Egypt and
supported a NATO intervention Libya, the US hasn’t said Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy or called for regime
change in Yemen.

“Each country in the region that has experienced upheaval is different,” Carney said.

The
administration has cast the anti-government protests in the region as a
rejection of al Qaeda’s ideology, and Obama’s address would mark the
first time Obama has spoken about the surge of democracy movements since
the killing of the terrorist group’s leader, Osama bin Laden.

In Syria
on Wednesday, the government deployed tanks as part of a crackdown on
anti-government protests that have engulfed the country for almost two
months and resulted in the death of 757 demonstrators, according to a
Syrian human rights group.

The US has
called for a “strong international response” to Syria’s crackdown on
demonstrators and condemned the violence and frozen the assets of Syrian
officials and agencies, while not calling for an end to Assad’s 11-year
rule.

“We continue to deplore the violence in Syria,” Carney said on Wednesday.

Obama is
scheduled to meet separately next week with Jordan’s King Abdullah and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss developments in the
Middle East and the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 2009,
Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University in which he called for “a
new beginning” between the US and the Muslim world.

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