By Sam Youngman - 05/17/11 08:04 PM EDT
President Obama's address on the Middle East Thursday will not focus on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
It will also not focus on the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Instead, after months of political upheaval and uprisings in the Middle East, President Obama will try to deliver a speech that assesses the sweeping changes the region has experienced, and discusses where the U.S. should go from here.
While the president will discuss both the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and bin Laden, Carney said Obama views the speech as "an opportunity to sort of step back and assess what we've all witnessed, the historic change we've seen and to talk about how he views it."
And with the ground in the region fertile as more and more peoples take to the streets to demand freedom and basic human rights, Obama sees an opportunity to shape that change without U.S. interference, Carney said.
"That is an opportunity not to be missed, in the president's view," Carney said. "And while change can be unsettling — it can even be scary because we don't always know where it's headed — it is something in this case to be embraced because the opportunity is there to help shape a better future for the region and for the world."
The White House is also drawing a great deal of attention to the speech. Carney said Tuesday that the president will make news with the speech with "some specific new ideas about U.S. policy towards the region."
"I can say safely the president will make news on Thursday when he gives this speech," Carney said.
To that end, Carney said Obama will talk specifically "about ways that we can best support that positive change ... while focusing on our core principles: nonviolence, support for human rights and support for political and economic reform."
But with new developments making the Middle East peace process seem more out of reach than usual, the president will focus on countries that have or are undergoing periods of change.
"While we obviously believe that there needs to be progress in the Middle East peace process, there are many other important problems to address in the region, for the governments in the region to answer the legitimate grievances of the people that they represent," Carney said.
Syria and its continued use of violence against its own people will almost certainly be included in Obama's remarks, as the administration continues to look for ways "to put pressure on the Syrian government, the Syrian regime, to pressure it so that it ceases violence against its own people and that it engages its people in peaceful dialogue and begins to respond to the legitimate grievances that the Syrian people have," Carney said.
Even the venue for Obama's speech sends a message, Carney said.
The president will speak from the State Department "because it speaks to where our efforts in the region will emanate principally, which is, they will be diplomatic efforts."