In this first-ever one-on-one interview by any US president to the Pakistani media, Mr Obama assured the Pakistani nation that he has no desire to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons or send US troops inside the country.
The US president also emphasised the need for resuming the dialogue process between India and Pakistan, which was stalled after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November last year.
The interview covered a wide-range of subjects — from the controversy involving the Iranian presidential election to Mr Obama’s speech in Cairo earlier this month in which he called for a new beginning between the Muslim and the Western worlds.
The venue, the White House diplomatic room with murals of early settlers, brought out the importance of Mr Obama’s historic victory in last year’s general election.
Close to the murals — under the watchful eyes of George Washington — sat a man who overcame gigantic hurdles to become America’s first non-White president.
Here was a man tasked with finding a graceful end to two unpopular wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and to steer America, and the rest of the world, out of an unprecedented economic crisis.
Yet, when he strolled into this oval-shaped room, Mr Obama seemed completely at ease with himself. Tall and slim, the 47-year-old US president had the youngish looks of a man who works out daily.
He walked straight towards the camera, greeting everyone, shook hands, occupied the chair reserved for him, and started talking about how he had a special affection for Pakistan and its people.
Asked to comment on Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement that the US was interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, Mr Obama said what’s happening in Iran was remarkable. ‘To see hundreds of thousands of people in peaceful protest against an election that obviously raised a lot of doubts tells us that this is an issue that the Iranian people care deeply about.’
The US and the West, he said, had been very clear that this was not an issue between the West and Iran; this was an issue about the Iranian people seeking justice and wanting to make sure that their voices were heard.
‘And it’s unfortunate that there are some inside Iran and inside that government that want to use the West and the United States as an excuse,’ he said.
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