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However, he cautioned that one speech would not solve all the Middle East problems so expectations should be modest.

“What I want to do is to create a better dialogue so that the Muslim world understands more effectively how the United States [and] the West think about many of these difficult issues like terrorism, like democracy, [and] to discuss the framework for what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and our outreach to Iran, and also how we view the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Mr. Obama said.

The president also said the West must try to learn more about Islam.

“There’s got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples,” he said. “The most important thing I want to tell young people is that, regardless of your faith, those who build as opposed to those who destroy I think leave a lasting legacy, not only for themselves but also for their nations.”

Mr. Rubin also said what is more unfortunate is that Mr. Obama has been arguing that we should not impose our values —freedom, liberty, democracy, tolerance — on the world.

“Rather than see these as universal values, he has embraced cultural relativism,” he said. “The problem with his statement is that he not only now declines to put American values at the forefront of American foreign policy, but he refuses to even identify them. Rather than talk about the United States as a Muslim country, perhaps he should talk about the United States as a country which has thrived because of a separation of church and state and an adherence to a constitution.”