Obama Talks to Muslim Entrepreneurs
By HELENE C. COOPER
President Obama vowed to continue to press for a comprehensive peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, exhorting young entrepreneurs from Muslim majority countries on Monday to look for ways to work with their American counterparts on a wide range of issues.
“So long as I am president, the United States will never waver in pursuit of a two-state solution that ensures the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama was speaking to businesspeople and intellectuals from Muslim countries who were attending his first summit on entrepreneurship, an offshoot of his speech to the Muslim world last year from Cairo.
The president called for more exchanges between Americans and Muslims, vowing to engage in a “sustained effort” to reach out and listen to opinions from Muslim countries, particularly of young people.
“Trade between the United States and Muslim majority countries is growing, but all this trade combined is only equal to our trade with one country—Mexico,” Mr. Obama said.
The summit in Washington, which ends Tuesday, is focusing on ways that Americans and Muslims of different backgrounds can exchange views and learn from one another.
Mr. Obama’s comments on Middle East peace are noteworthy because they come as the administration is embroiled in a dispute with the Israeli government over construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Mr. Obama discussed the issue at the White House on Monday with Israeli’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, White House officials said.