Hallmark of Obama's foreign policy: Engaging Asia - and the Muslims

Hallmark of Obama's foreign policy: Engaging Asia - and the Muslims
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and US President Barack Obama.

Engaging the Muslim world and forging stronger ties with Asia are the hallmarks of US President Barack Obama's foreign policy. These priorities reflect the American leader's multicultural heritage, which has given him a wider view of the world.

United States president Barack Obama broke the mould on how the leader of a superpower sees the rest of the world.

Inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States on Jan 20, 2009, and winning a second term on Nov 6, 2012, Obama took over, promising "a new chapter in American engagement in the world".

He became president at a time when the United States was mired in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The country's Mideast policy and self-styled "war on terror" soured relations with most of the Muslim world.

The 53-year-old Obama has offered a fresh approach on how his country wields its global influence and has tried to rebuild bridges with the Muslim world and other nations.

In his first few days in office, he issued orders to the country's military to draw up plans to pull out from Iraq, a process that was eventually completed in December 2011.

His first overseas visit as president was to Turkey in April 2009, reflecting his emphasis on improving relations.

Addressing university students in Istanbul, Obama said the United States, despite its flaws and past mistakes, was poised for a fresh start with Muslims and the rest of the world to ease the tensions that have grown after the attacks on Sept 11 and the war in Iraq.

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