ALTIMORE: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called “inexcusable” anti-Muslim rhetoric in the political sphere — a veiled jibe at Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump and others.

Making his first visit to a mosque while in office, Obama praised American Muslims as upstanding citizens and thanked them for helping their community.

Obama talked about a 13-year-old Muslim girl from Ohio who wrote him to say she is scared.

Obama said that girl is like his own daughters. He says it's wrong that any child would be filled with doubt or question their place in society.

Before the speech, Obama met at the mosque with Muslim-American leaders from around the country.

Much of Obama's foreign policy agenda has focused on improving ties with Muslim nations, from making a nuclear deal with Iran to improving ties with Indonesia and ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the effort has been stymied by continued confrontation with militant groups and military strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

His latest effort to ease intra-faith relations comes as a shrill election debate has sullied America's image abroad and militant attacks in San Bernardino and Philadelphia threatened to shatter post-9/11 religious solidarity at home.

Six days after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, then president George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, declaring "Islam is peace".

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