Obama: U.S. Not at War With Islam

President Obama declared Monday that his country "is not and will never be at war with Islam," as he sought to bridge divides between East and West during his first visit as president to a Muslim country.

Obama addressed the Turkish parliament on his final day of an overseas trip in which he has sought foreign support to confront the global economic crisis as well as the war in Afghanistan.

He stressed that Turkey and the United States share a "common goal" of flushing out Al Qaeda from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and said their countries, along with Iraq, face a "common threat from terrorism."

But he acknowledged that the "trust" between the United States and Turkey has been strained, particularly in Muslim communities.

"So let me say this as clearly as I can -- the United States is not and will never be at war with Islam," Obama said, to a round of applause.

The U.S. president is trying to mend fences with a Muslim world that felt it had been blamed by America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, underscored his personal connection Monday with Muslim culture and said the United States seeks "broader engagement" with the Muslim world than just the fight against Al Qaeda.

"We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstanding, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. And we will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over centuries to shape the world -- including in my own country," Obama said. "The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them."

He added: "This is not where East and West divide -- this is where they come together."

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyia, two of the biggest Arabic satellite channels, carried Obama's speech live.

Obama also said, to a round of applause, that the United States supports Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.

In talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama hoped to sell his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and find welcoming ears given the new U.S. focus on melding troop increases with civilian efforts to better the lives of people in both countries. Turkey currently provides troops to Afghanistan.

Obama recognized past tensions in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, but said things were on the right track now because both countries share common interests and are diverse nations. "We don't consider ourselves Christian, Jewish, Muslim. We consider ourselves a nation bound by a set of ideals and values," Obama said of the United States. "Turkey has similar principals."

Obama's trip to Turkey, his final scheduled country visit, ties together themes of earlier stops. He attended the Group of 20 economic summit in London, celebrated NATO's 60th anniversary in Strasbourg, France, and on Saturday visited the Czech Republic, which included a summit of European Union leaders in Prague.

Turkey is a member of both the G-20 and NATO and is trying to get into the EU with the help of the U.S.

Turkey has the largest army in NATO after the United States. It and tiny Albania, recently admitted, are the only predominantly Muslim members of NATO.

Turkey opposed the war in Iraq in 2003 and U.S. forces were not allowed to go through Turkey to attack Iraq. Now, however, since Obama is withdrawing troops, Turkey has become more cooperative. It is going to be a key country after the U.S. withdrawal in maintaining stability, although it has long had problems with Kurdish militants in north Iraq.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.