In advance of his Cairo speech this Thursday, President Barack Obama is starting to seed the ground with tidbits on what he will tell the Islamic world.
In response to concerns, especially in Egypt, that Obama will overlook Mubarak's sketchy record of promoting human rights and democratic reforms, the US president called the Egyptian president "a force for stability and good in the region."
"He has been a stalwart ally in many respects, to the United States," Obama told the BBC. "He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region. But he has never resorted to, you know, unnecessary demagoging of the issue, and has tried to maintain that relationship.
"So I think he has been a force for stability and good in the region. Obviously, there have been criticisms of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt. And, as I said before, the United States' job is not to lecture, but to encourage, to lift up what we consider to be the values that ultimately will work - not just for our country, but for the aspirations of a lot of people."
2. The US can't impose its values on the Middle East.
"The message I hope to deliver is that democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion - those are not simply principles of the West to be hoisted on these countries," Obama told the BBC. "But, rather what I believe to be universal principles that they can embrace and affirm as part of their national identity. The danger, I think, is when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture."
3. Israel must stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Period.
If there was any doubt that the Obama administration is not giving Israel wiggle room to continue building in existing West Bank settlements, the president put them to rest.
"I've said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements, including natural growth, is part of those obligations.," Obama told NPR. "I've said to the Palestinians that their continued progress on security and ending the incitement that, I think, understandably makes the Israelis so concerned, that that has to be — those obligations have to be met. So the key is to just believe that that process can move forward and that all sides are going to have to give. And it's not going to be an easy path, but one that I think we can achieve.
"Part of being a good friend is being honest," he told NPR. " And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative — not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests. And that's part of a new dialogue that I'd like to see encouraged in the region."