Obama: I'll forge new ties with Muslims

US president calls Saudi, Indonesian, Philippine leaders to discuss economy, security, education.

Barack Obama 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Barack Obama 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
In phone conversations with the leaders of Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines on Friday, US President Barack Obama discussed his commitment to forging a new relationship with Islamic countries, among other issues. The White House said Obama discussed the importance of improving US relations with Islamic countries with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Obama noted that he and Yudhoyono would attend the Group of 20 nations summit next month in London. At the end of his European trip next month, Obama is scheduled to visit Turkey, a Muslim country where relations with the US were strained by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, another G-20 country and longtime US ally in the Middle East, agreed on the importance of maintaining a strong US-Saudi relationship to promote peace and security in the region. The White House said they also spoke about coordinating international efforts to restore economic growth. In his conversation with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Obama commended her country's efforts against terrorism and in modernizing the armed forces. They also talked about cooperating on other issues, including climate change and education, the White House said. Obama and Arroyo also reaffirmed their commitment to the long-standing US-Philippine alliance, including the Visiting Forces Agreement, a bilateral pact that governs the conduct of US forces in the country.