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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Obama wraps up landmark Middle East, Europe trip

PARIS: President Barack Obama on Sunday wrapped up a Middle East and Europe tour steeped in history and intense diplomacy, confident he has cleared the "debris" thwarting US relations with the Muslim world.

Obama, who visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany and France also believes he has made clear what he expects from all leaders in the strife-torn Middle East as he cranks up a regional peace drive, aides said.

Confidants also said the president was deeply moved by his visit to the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Germany and his meetings with World War II veterans at D-Day 65th anniversary celebrations.

"This was an extraordinary journey, one in which the president had an opportunity to look back in history, at the people who sacrificed and suffered to create the modern world and to look forward at the responsibilities that we all have in our times to forge a better future," senior political advisor David Axelrod said.

Obama on Sunday visited the Pompidou Centre modern arts museum in Paris with his family, before his planned flight back to Washington and the cauldron of domestic US politics.

The White House said it carefully monitored the response across the Arab world to Obama's landmark speech in Cairo on Thursday in which he vowed to forge a "new beginning" with Islam.

Officials cited an online poll by Maktoob Research for the Broadcasting Board of Governors that showed more than 75 per cent of people who were asked in Muslim nations said they viewed the speech positively.


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