President Obama to Announce Special Envoy to Muslim World

By MichaelJames

Feb 13, 2010 10:22am

President Obama will make some news in his video address to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar today, sources tell ABC News, announcing a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

With 57 member states on four continents, the OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations. It bills itself as "the collective voice of the Muslim world" working to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world."

A senior administration official tells ABC News that today's announcement "is just the latest in ongoing efforts out of Cairo" — the speech to the Muslim world President Obama gave in Cairo, Egypt, in March 2009 – "to make sure we are continuing a key priority of the president's: to very clearly tell America's story, particularly in light of all the lies told about us by our enemies, particularly al Qaeda."

Sources say the special envoy will be Rashad Hussain, who currently serves as deputy associate counsel to President Obama in the White House Counsel's office.

A former trial attorney at the Justice Department and clerk to Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Hussain is a devout Muslim and helped inform the speech President Obama gave in Cairo — particularly with the speech's references to the history of Islam and the Koran, and its general tone.

Hussain will shift over to the State Department for his new role.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will represent the U.S. at the conference, jointly hosted by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Brookings Institution. Clinton will be arriving later than previously scheduled because of her husband's recent heart troubles.

Clinton will join Qatar’s Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani in addressing this year's forum, called “Writing the Next Chapter."

In a statement, Brookings President Strobe Talbott said, "With President Obama determined to turn the page in America's relations with Muslim communities around the globe, this year's forum will examine how to craft more robust partnerships that can help repair the deep divisions our societies,"

Others expected at the forum include President Obama's Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In June 2007, President George W. Bush announced that he would name the first U.S. special envoy to the OIC. In February 2008, he named Texas entrepreneur Sada Cumber, chairman and chief executive officer of wireless imaging company SozoTek.

-jpt

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