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Al-Jazeera hires CNN's Velshi for US launch

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Al-Jazeera America said Friday it has hired CNN business correspondent Ali Velshi, as the broadcaster gears up for its launch in the US market later this year.

"We are thrilled to secure Ali's extraordinary talents and services," said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of Al-Jazeera international operations.

"Al-Jazeera America will be bringing respected, independent reporting to its viewers, and that's exactly the type of coverage Ali Velshi is known for."

The pan-Arab news giant announced earlier this year it was buying Current TV, a struggling US cable channel, in a deal aimed at giving the Qatar-based broadcaster the scope to compete with major American TV networks.

The news channel, to be launched at an unspecified date later this year, will provide domestic and international news for American audiences. It will be headquartered in New York with bureaus in other cities.

Al Shihabi said Velshi and other Al-Jazeera America journalists "will be fiercely objective, substantively strong and absolutely committed to the truth."

Velshi said in the statement he was "thrilled to be joining Al-Jazeera America, an organization that puts quality, fact-based journalism first."

"I look forward to taking advantage of the extraordinary US news-gathering capabilities the channel is building and working with such a diverse and talented group of colleagues to tell compelling stories that matter to Americans," he said.

In acquiring Current, co-founded by former US vice president Al Gore, Al-Jazeera will reach millions more US homes than it does at present.

It will put the broadcaster, which is financed by the Qatari government, into closer competition with CNN and other news channels, as Al-Jazeera is currently only available on a handful of US cable and satellite distributors.

Velshi has been CNN's chief business correspondent, anchor of CNN Newsroom, and host of other programs.

He was born in Kenya and raised in Toronto, according to his CNN profile, and wrote a 2009 book, "Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130405/al-jazeera-hires-cnns-velshi-us-launch