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Obama vows to renew U.S. image, repair foreign relations
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08:26, December 11, 2008

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U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has said his presidency would be an opportunity for the country to renew its international image and renovate ties with the world, local media reported Wednesday.

"I think we've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular," he said in an interview published Wednesday by the Chicago Tribune.

Obama said he has an "unrelenting" desire to "create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries and with peoples of goodwill who want their citizens and ours to prosper together."

The conversation was his first with a newspaper since being elected on Nov. 4.

Obama said the United States must take advantage of a unique chance to recalibrate relations around the globe, through a new diplomacy that emphasizes inclusiveness and tolerance as well as an unflinching stand against terrorism.

"The message I want to send is that we will be unyielding in stamping out the terrorist extremism we saw in Mumbai," Obama said, adding that he plans to give a major address in an Islamic capital as part of his global outreach.

Though world events and economic winds have made his agenda all the more challenging, Obama kept close counsel on how he plans to move forward.

However, he would not commit to specific plans on matters as varied as free trade, unionization and illegal immigration.

Instead, the president-elect said his nominees and advisers are studying the issues and will report back with recommendations.

Asked if he would support the extension of a border fence between the United States and Mexico, Obama deferred to his nominee for the Homeland Security Department, Janet Napolitano.

He also sidestepped questions about whether he would move quickly on promises to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement.


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