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Saturday, June 27, 2009

US appoints envoy to Muslim world


The US state department has appointed its first special representative to Muslim communities to help carry out President Barack Obama's strategy of reaching out to the Muslim world.

The choice of Farah Pandith was disclosed in an internal memo to state department employees on Saturday.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said Pandith would play a leading role in US efforts to "engage Muslims around the world" and to combat negative views of the United States abroad.

Clinton said Pandith, who was born in Indian-administered Kashmir, would bring years of experience to the role.

Muslim engagement

The state department said Pandith, who is a Muslim, would be responsible for helping US efforts to "engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organisational level".

The statement said Pandith was previously the senior adviser on Muslim engagement in the European and Eurasian region at the state department and had worked in the Afghan capital, Kabul, with the US Agency for International Development.

The appointment is part of Obama's attempts to improve relations with Muslims around the world.

In a speech in Cairo earlier this month, Obama said there had been "years of distrust" between the West and Islam but he was seeking "a new beginning" in the relationship.

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