On June 4, 2009, in President Obama gave a speech in Cairo, Egypt, proposing a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. The President said that the U.S. would work in partnership to address shared challenges such as violent extremism, Iraq, achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and nonproliferation. He also said that the United States would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people. He called for expanding partnerships in a range of areas including education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, and strengthening our commitment to shared values including democracy and human rights.
The Administration has approached the Cairo speech as an overarching vision and set of principles that guide U.S. Government policies across a broad range of issues. The President identified specific commitments in the speech, which were examples of the types of engagement we seek. Over the last year, we have worked hard to make progress on the difficult political and security challenges that the President addressed, and have delivered on many of the specific commitments the President cited – from science envoys and a technology fund to expanding exchanges, hosting an entrepreneurship summit, and partnering with the Organization of the Islamic Conference on polio eradication. However, these commitments were always just a beginning.
Our embassies around the world, and departments and agencies across the government, are engaged every day in ways that reflect the principles and spirit of the vision the President put forth in Cairo. From partnerships to improve air quality in Jakarta and memorandums of understanding to expand cooperation on clean, renewable, and alternative energy, to programs that support female teacher training in Nigeria and connecting schools in Qatar with schools in America, bringing bloggers together in Indonesia, and agreements to promote small business development, the comprehensive engagement the President called for in Cairo is being vigorously pursued.
These are just a sample of the U.S. government programs focused on these key areas of partnership identified by the President. In coming days, we will be unveiling a website that will highlight how the U.S. is pursuing the vision the President articulated in Cairo. It will include more examples of the work the U.S. Government is doing around the world and include key remarks, fact-sheets, blog postings, and other material related to this important effort. One year since the President’s speech, the Administration has pursued the engagement the President called for, and we remain committed to working together to confront common challenges and seize mutually beneficial opportunities.
Pradeep Ramamurthy is Senior Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council