Page last updated at 23:24 GMT, Saturday, 13 February 2010

Obama names new US envoy to global Islamic body

Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) logo
The first US envoy to the OIC was appointed by President Bush in 2008

US President Barack Obama has named a new special envoy to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Mr Obama said Rashad Hussain, a deputy associate counsel at the White House, had played a key role in developing partnerships with the Muslim world.

The OIC represents more than 50 states and promotes Muslim solidarity in economic, social and political affairs.

In June, Mr Obama said extremists had exploited tensions between the West and Muslims and called for a new beginning.

"Since then, my administration has made a sustained effort to listen," Mr Obama told the US-Islamic World Forum in Qatar in a video message, in which he announced Mr Hussain's appointment.

We have an unprecedented opportunity... for a comprehensive engagement with the Muslim world
Rashad Hussain
US Special Envoy to the OIC

"We've held thousands of events and town halls... in the United States and around the world... And I look forward to continuing the dialogue during my visit to Indonesia next month," he added.

Mr Obama said the new envoy had completely memorised the Koran and was "a respected member of the American Muslim community".

Mr Hussein told the Reuters news agency that there was now an "unprecedented opportunity... for a comprehensive agreement with the Muslim world".

In 2008, former President George W Bush named Sada Cumber, a Texan businessman, as the first US envoy to the OIC.

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