For his first, formal, televised interview as President of the United States, Barack Obama could have gone anywhere.
But instead of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS or any other major American outlet, he's spoken to al-Arabiya, the largest network news provider in the Arab world.
"All too often the United States starts by dictating -- in the past on some of these issues -- and we don't always know all the factors that are involved," Obama told al-Arabiya, as quoted by the Washington Post. "So let's listen. He's going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response."
Obama appears to be making a concerted effort to change perceptions of the United States among Arab-majority nations. One day after taking the Oath of Office, the president made his first foreign policy call. Instead of speaking with US allies, he went directly to the Palestinian leadership.
"Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect," he was quoted as saying. "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries."