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U.S. Works to Improve Image in Muslim World

A new survey has found that opinions of the U.S. among people in the Muslim world has gotten worse over the past five years. Middle East policy analysts discuss U.S. efforts to bolster Muslim views of America.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now to Jeffrey Brown for a look at the effort to improve how the United States is seen, specifically in the Muslim world.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In an event filled with symbolism, President Bush returned today to the Islamic Center in Washington, his first visit to the mosque and cultural center since the week of 9/11.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: I've invested the heart of my presidency in helping Muslims fight terrorism and claim their liberty. I will appoint a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This is the first time a president has made such an appointment to the OIC.

    Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America's views and values.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    For the president, it was the latest effort in what is known as public diplomacy, particularly focused on winning hearts and minds in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Veteran Bush political adviser Karen Hughes was appointed undersecretary of state and put in charge of that effort in 2005.

    KAREN HUGHES, Undersecretary of State: America's public diplomacy should be as much about listening and understanding as it is about speaking. I'm eager to listen and to learn.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Hughes has since made a number of trips to the Middle East and to every continent except Australia. Her office has focused its attention on the areas of education and exchanges and what it calls the "diplomacy of deeds." One example: after an earthquake struck Pakistan, killing some 73,000 people, international aid rushed in, and so did Hughes, touring hospitals and reassuring residents.

  • KAREN HUGHES:

    America has a longstanding, ongoing commitment to Pakistan.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Hughes has also brought women leaders and others from around the world to Washington to share ideas. In May, Hughes issued the first- ever national strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication. Among its key objectives: offering a positive vision of hope and opportunity that is rooted in our most basic values; and working to isolate and marginalize violent extremists.