Making good on a promise he made to Muslims last year, President Barack Obama will host an entrepreneurship conference next week to deepen ties between business people in the United States and Muslim countries.
More than 250 entrepreneurs, educators and investors from 50 countries will gather in Washington on Monday for the two-day meeting. The goals include finding ways to make economic and social climates favorable for entrepreneurship, and developing the role of businesswomen.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the administration believes that promoting global entrepreneurship is a vital part of US foreign policy. "This is not simply an exercise in public outreach or public diplomacy," Rhodes said. "We believe this is the beginning of forging tangible partnerships."
During a June speech in Cairo, Obama said he wanted to forge a relationship between the United States and Muslims based on respect and partnerships with the private sector and civil society. Among his goals, Obama said, was to "create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries."
Several administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House economic adviser Larry Summers, will participate in the conference. Obama is expected to address the participants on Monday. Rhodes said the administration will announce specific projects during the meeting, and the US government will undertake to improve its business partnerships with Muslim nations.