WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States will not back away from its Mideast policies while trying to allay Muslim suspicions about the war on terrorism, President Bush's national security adviser tells an Arab interviewer.
"No, we believe that the policies that the United States is pursuing are ones that are good for the Middle East as a whole -- populations that are Arab populations, as well as the population of Israel," Condoleezza Rice said in the interview Monday with Al-Jazeera. The network, based in the Persian Gulf emirate Qatar, is widely watched throughout the region and has aired taped statements supplied by suspected terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden and his associates.
The interview was part of an administration effort to cast America in a better light abroad, particularly among Muslims outraged at the week-old air war against bin Laden and his protectors the Taliban, Afghanistan's ruling militia. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was to appear Tuesday on the Arab network, and officials said Bush was considering his own interview on Al-Jazeera.
A perceived pro-Israeli bias has long angered crucial Arab allies, as well as Muslims in Pakistan and Indonesia who view the Palestinians as victims of U.S. policies.
While Rice told the interviewer the United States has no plan to review U.S. policies in the volatile Middle East, she repeated recent comments by leaders of the administration in favor of statehood for Palestinians. The administration had not articulated that goal until after the Sept. 11 attacks.
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