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Obama Addresses Arab World in First Post-Inaugural Interview

In his first extensive post-inaugural interview, President Obama assured Muslims that America was not an enemy. Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya, discusses the Middle East's reaction to the Al-Arabiya interview and Obama's challenges ahead in the region.

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    President Obama's first post-inaugural interview aired late last night, but odds are most Americans didn't see it. The interview was with journalist Hisham Melhem on Al-Arabiya, a leading worldwide Arab satellite channel based in Dubai.

    They spoke just hours after Mr. Obama dispatched his new special envoy for Arab-Israeli peace, former Sen. George Mitchell, on his first mission to the region.


    I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away. And George Mitchell is somebody of enormous stature. He is one of the few people who have international experience brokering peace deals.

    And so what I've told him is: Start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating in the past on some of these issues, and we don't always know all of the factors that are involved. So let's listen.

    I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria, or Iran, or Lebanon, or Afghanistan and Pakistan. These things are interrelated.