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Clinton Travels to Qatar, Saudi Arabia

(KATAKAMI / VOA) Her trip will focus on talks with allies on Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left on a trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia for talks with U.S. allies on Iran and efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Clinton is expected to arrive Sunday in Qatar’s capital, Doha, where she will meet with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who serves as both the prime minister and foreign minister.

Clinton will also deliver a speech to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, as part of the Obama administration’s bid to promote better ties with Muslim countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday appointed a special envoy to the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference ahead of Clinton’s appearance at the forum.

In a recorded video message to the conference, Mr. Obama said he was appointing White House lawyer Rashad Hussain to expand the partnership with the Muslim community that he has pursued since his Cairo speech last June.

President Obama said he looks forward to continuing the dialogue next month when he visits Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.  Mr. Obama also acknowledged the challenges ahead, because he said the relationship between the United States and Muslims has, as he put it, “slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.”

In Saudi Arabia, Clinton will meet with King Abdullah, the principal sponsor of the 2003 Arab League peace initiative offering Israel full relations with Arab states for progress made with the Palestinians.  A State Department spokesman said Clinton will try to persuade Arab leaders to re-engage with the stalled peace process.

Clinton is departing a day later than planned after her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was briefly hospitalized for a heart procedure on Thursday.

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