WASHINGTON - The good will tour of the Middle East by the imam behind the proposed mosque near "Ground Zero" is just part of the U.S. government's outreach to the Muslim world.
This year, the Obama administration will spend nearly $6 million to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including mosques and minarets, in 55 nations, according to State Department documents.
That includes $76,000 for a 16th century mosque in China, $67,000 for a mosque in Pakistan, $77,000 to restore minarets in Nigeria and Mauritania, and $50,000 for an Islamic Monument in India.
But that's a fraction of the total in the 2010 Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which also will fund projects to restore Christian and Buddhist sites as well as museums, forts and palaces.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. program to restore Islamic and other cultural sites abroad is money well spent.