Before Obama Speech in Cairo, Aide Cites 'Undeniable Breach' Between U.S. and Islamic World

"That will require, I think, a recognition on both the part of the United States as well as many majority-Muslim countries about each other; a better sense of understanding, and, I think, the possibilities of achieving common ground," he said after a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

Obama said he will emphasize the importance and contributions of Muslim-Americans in the United States, which he said is often overlooked in discussions like this.

The White House is going to great lengths to make sure Obama's speech reaches as many eyes and ears as possible, with unprecedented efforts to connect through online social networking sites.

The White House wants to reach out to the 20 million Arab Facebook users, using features on the site to promote the speech and Obama's message. The White House also plans to use MySpace, Twitter and YouTube.

The speech will be streamed live on the White House Web site and fully translated transcripts will be posted in 13 different languages.

The State Department will enable people to register to receive live text messages about the speech in four languages -- English, Arabic, Urdu and Persian -- and allow them to send feedback by text that will be posted on the department's Web site.

Middle East Peace Process Tops Agenda Early On

The speech comes as Obama juggles several critical foreign policy challenges in the region including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, unrest in Pakistan and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama has met with key leaders from the region over the last several weeks, sitting down first with King Abdullah in April and then newly elected conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas last month.

White House officials said that the speech will address how the United States can work with its allies in the region on these issues.

Obama is not expected to outline a detailed plan for a Middle East peace process, but he said last week that he will not shy away from making reference to the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"Certainly the issue of Middle East peace is something that is going to need to be addressed. It is a critical factor in the minds of many Arabs in countries throughout the region," Obama said.

Polling Shows Improvement in U.S. Image in Middle East

Recent polling shows that while public opinion of the United States has improved in the Middle East, Obama still has substantial work to do to restore America's influence and reputation in the region.

New Gallup polls conducted in 10 Arab countries and the Palestinian territories show double-digit gains in the approval ratings of the United States in eight countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Approval of U.S. leadership is up 19 points in Egypt from this time last year and 17 points in Saudi Arabia, but only a quarter of Egyptians (25 percent) and a third of Saudis (29 percent) gave the United States high marks.

White House officials said the speech should not be seen as an endorsement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government, but noted that Egypt represents the heart of the Arab world and Obama can address issues like democracy and human rights in a broad sense.

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