President Obama To Deliver Middle East Vision

President Obama will attempt to redefine a new vision for America's relations with the Arab world on Thursday in a major policy speech. It is thought the address will cover recent pro-democracy demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the death of Osama bin Laden, the influence of Iran and the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Senior government officials say the speech will focus on the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring uprisings, such as political and economic reform, as well as signalling a fundamental change in how America ""does business"" in the region.

President Obama has been criticised for apparent inconsistencies in his approach to the Arab world after his attempt to reboot relations during a visit to Cairo in 2009.This year he was criticised for taking too long to call for the resignation of Egypt's then president Hosni Mubarak, while he was swift to side with protesters in Tunisia, a country which holds little strategic value for America.

The administration was also accused of soft-pedalling as the Syrian government killed hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators. On Wednesday President Obama significantly increased the pressure on Damascus by bringing sanctions against President Bashar Assad and six other ministers for human rights abuses.

But experts in the region caution against a one-size-fits-all approach to the region. Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst and former negotiator, told Sky News: ""This won't be an attempt to create an Obama Doctrine. We don't need one of those.

""That would be ideological rigidity which could come at the expense of flexibility.""

He added: ""It will be an effort to inject a certain measure of consistency, predictability and principles.""

The speech, which is expected to last 45 minutes, is likely to set out the universal values and principles which America supports and suggest that the violent jihad waged by groups like al Qaeda should now be consigned to history.

He will begin his remarks at the US State Department just before midday on Thursday.
Sky News