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Powell: Bush to aggressively pursue issues important to Muslims

George W. Bush
Colin Powell
State Department

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell told assembled Muslim guests Thursday that in its second term, the Bush administration will "strike a balance" between security and openness.

Powell made his remarks at a State Department dinner celebrating the end of the daily Ramadan fast.

Powell acknowledged that heightened security since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the war on terrorism have "caused inconvenience" to many Muslims.

But he said, "I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to strike a balance" between security and openness.

And the Bush administration will deal aggressively with issues important to Muslims, he said.

"President Bush in his four years in office will be aggressively moving forward to deal with the concerns that are in your hearts and on your minds with the respect to the Middle East peace process, with respect to reform and modernization, with respect to solidifying democracy in places that never known democracy before and with respect fighting terrorism," Powell said.

The secretary hosted nearly 200 people, including young Muslims and women from a variety of countries in the Arab world and Asia.

Before the meal of lamb and chicken, an imam led the group in the call to prayer in the adjacent John Quincy Adams room, where prayer mats were laid out.

President Bush would ensure that America "remains an open land," Powell said.

He also cited what the United States has undertaken to benefit Muslims, including liberating Kuwait and Bush's call for a Palestinian state, which he said the United States is committed to help creating. He made no mention of ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

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