U.S. President Barack Obama said in a major speech to the Muslim world on Thursday that the United States seeks a new beginning of relations with Muslims based on mutual interests and respect.
"I have come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect," Obama said in his speech, attended by more than a thousand audiences in the conference hall of Cairo University, and widely broadcasted live.
"This cycle of suspicion and discord must end," Obama said, referring to the U.S.-Islam mistrust during the past eight years caused by his predecessor George W. Bush administration's anti-terrorism campaign that raised hostility in the Muslim world.
Obama said in addition to historical factors, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization left many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the Islam traditions, while a small minority of extremist Muslims have left some Americans to view Islam as hostile.
Though determined to improve U.S. ties with Islam, Obama said "change cannot happen overnight" and that "no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust."
He said in order to move forward a new U.S.-Islam relationship, the two sides must open, listen to each other, to learn from each other, respect each other and seek a common ground.
"Partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't," he said.
He pledged to shoulder the responsibility as U.S. president to "fight against negative Islam stereotype wherever they appears," while also expressing hope that the Islamic world do not bear stereotype of the United States.
Praising Islam's innovation and contribution to human civilization, Obama referred to the U.S. links with Islam and his own Islam background.
He said the United States has nearly 7 million Muslims, who have enriched the country.
"Let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America," he stressed.
Obama is a Christian, while his father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims, and he spent years of his childhood in Indonesia, a Muslim country.