Full Text Obama Presidency July 17, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economy and on the Malaysia Airlines Jet Shot Down Over Ukraine

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Economy — Wilmington, DE

Source: WH, 7-17-14 

Port of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware

2:10 P.M.
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.  It is wonderful to be back in Delaware.

Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.  And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.  Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard.  That is our first priority.  And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government.  The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.  And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.

I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction.  Give Jeremie a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here.  Give them a big round of applause.  We love them.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Governor Jack Markell.  (Applause.)  Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, County Executive Tom Gordon, and the Mayor of Wilmington, Dennis Williams.  (Applause.)  We’ve also got two terrific members of my Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is here — (applause) — and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is here.  (Applause.)

Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money.  (Laughter.) Although it’s kind of illegible.  We teased him when he first became Treasury Secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom.  (Laughter.)

Now, the bridge behind me used to carry 90,000 cars every day — 90,000.  Since last month, it’s been closed for repairs.  Once workers are done repairing it, this bridge will be safer, it will be more reliable for commuters and for commerce.  And thanks to a competitive grant program called TIGER — a program, by the way, that was part of the Recovery Act that we initiated when I first came into office and Joe Biden helped to manage — this port is rebuilding a wharf that will finally let Wilmington compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships.  (Applause.)  For the biggest cargo ships.  So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states.

And that’s what I’m here to talk about today — and I’ve been talking about this all week — creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class.

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, in part because of the actions we took, primarily because of the strength and determination of the American people, our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  (Applause.)  Construction and housing are rebounding.  The auto industry is booming — it was in a tailspin when we came in.  Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 — which is one of the fastest one-year drops in nearly 30 years.  (Applause.)

And the decisions we made — not only to rescue our economy, but to start rebuilding it on a firmer foundation — those decisions are starting to pay off.  We are more energy independent.  For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from abroad.  First time in 20 years we’re doing that.  (Applause.)
At the same time, we’re actually reducing our carbon pollution, and we’re creating new jobs in clean and renewable energies — three times as much wind power; 10 times as much solar power.

In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high.  More young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  401(k)s are growing.  Fewer homes are underwater.  Millions more now have the peace of mind of having quality, affordable health care if they need it.  And the deficit is coming down to boot, been cut more than half.  (Applause.)

So by almost every economic measure, we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office.  And as I said, most of it is thanks to you, the resilience and the resolve of the American people.  Because of that we’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth.  And business leaders, for the first time in a decade, around the world are saying that China is not the best place to invest; the United States of America is the most promising place to invest.

So we’ve got this huge opportunity to keep this momentum going, to keep growing the economy, but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared.  We got to make sure we’re creating not just more jobs, but also raising middle-class wages and incomes, and making it easier for folks, if they’re working hard and doing the right thing, to raise a family.

We got to make sure that we’re not just graduating more kids, we’ve got to also train more workers and make college more affordable.  We got to make sure our economy works for every American.  That’s why I ran for President.  That’s what I’m focused on every day.  And this is more than just some fleeting political story or made-up scandal; this is the challenge of our times — making sure that if you work hard and you’re responsible, anybody can get ahead in this country.  That’s what America is about.  And we can achieve that if we just see a few changes in Washington’s priorities.

So, today, I’m here to talk about just one example: creating good jobs of the sort that Jeremie just talked about — good jobs rebuilding America.  We know that in the 21st century economy, businesses are going to set up shop wherever they find the best roads, the best bridges, the fastest Internet connection, the fastest rail lines, the smartest airports, the best power grid.  First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs.  Unfortunately, right now, our investment in transportation lags behind a lot of other countries.  China is doing more.  Germany is doing more.  They’re putting money back into building the infrastructure we need to grow over the long term.

And if Washington were working the way it was supposed to, Congress would be creating jobs right now, jobs just like Jeremie talked about — jobs like these guys in the hard hats are doing right now rebuilding bridges and roads and airports and ports all across the country.  (Applause.)  It helps us now and it helps up create jobs tomorrow.  That’s what we should be doing.

But instead of creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure in a predictable, sustainable way, the debate in Washington lately has been about something called the Highway Trust Fund.  It’s how America is supposed to support states on transportation projects.  Congress has to keep it funded, otherwise states have to put projects on hold, put construction workers back on the unemployment line.

The good news is, Democrats and Republicans are about to pass a short-term fix that will keep funding going for about another nine or ten months.  And I support that.  I mean, the least we can do is just support the jobs that are already there, keep Americans on the job.  But if that’s all Congress does, then we’re going to have the same kind of funding crisis nine months from now.  And that’s not how normally you fund infrastructure, because you got to plan it and you got to think about how are we helping folks and how are we helping states and cities and municipalities create plans for the future and make sure that the funding streams are level.  We don’t need unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines that crunch a few months from now.  And we shouldn’t have been this close to the deadline in the first place.

As your governor has pointed, even smaller transportation projects can take years to design and plan and build.  A few months of funding doesn’t cut it.  And so Jack said, “To call this a Band-Aid is an insult to a Band-Aid.”  That’s a pretty good line.   (Laughter.)  I’m going to have to try that out.  (Applause.)

So Congress shouldn’t be too proud.  It shouldn’t pat itself on the back for kicking the can down the road every few months.  Instead of barely paying our bills in the present, we should be planning and investing in our future.  That’s how the economy grows for everybody.  The American people work hard every single day, and your efforts shouldn’t be threatened every few months by a manufactured crisis in Washington.  Everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute every time.

So what I’ve done is earlier this year put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a long-term responsible way, a plan that would support millions of jobs, would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to hire more workers faster.  It would help small businesses ship their goods faster.  It would help parents get home from their commute faster so they can see their kids.

And it wouldn’t add to what is already a rapidly shrinking deficit because we pay for it in part by closing loopholes for companies that are shipping profits overseas and are avoiding paying their fair share of taxes.  So that’s what we need, a broad-based plan.  We got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance in this country in roads and bridges and sewer systems and water mains.  And we could put a lot of people back to work right now getting that done.  And we’re going to have to do it eventually anyway.

But so far, Congress has refused to act on the idea — which is strange because infrastructure should not be a partisan issue.  If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System.  Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad.  Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off.  When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century.  That’s what right now Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on.  But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own.  (Applause.)

So today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative.  And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects.  There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment.  They get a steady return.

And lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure.  So my administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington.

And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America, and raise more workers’ wages, help women fight for fair pay, ease loan burdens for millions of students.  We’re taking steps on our own, still hoping that Congress at some point actually does something.  (Applause.)

I keep hearing from folks all across the country who tell me if members of Congress have the same priorities that most Americans do, if they felt the same sense of urgency that you feel in your own lives, we could help a lot of families right now.
Instead of playing politics, we should be creating jobs by investing in what makes our economy strong -– infrastructure and manufacturing and energy, and research and development, and education.  All these things lead to new industries.
We should be training our workers to fill new jobs.  We should be preparing our kids to face global competition.  We should be making sure that hard work pays off with a higher minimum wage.

We should be seizing these opportunities.  And there’s a simple principle behind it.  When the middle class does good, and when people have ladders into the middle class if they work hard, everybody does better.  You have more customers for businesses.  Folks at the very top do better.  America grows best from the middle out, not from the top down.  That’s when we succeed.

So I’m going to keep on looking for areas where Republicans and Democrats agree to move this country forward.  But I’m not going to stand by when politics and inaction are holding us back.  (Applause.)
Wherever and whenever I have a chance to help families like yours I’m going to do it.  When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it.  That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act.

And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit.  (Laughter.)  They’re suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job.  That’s disappointing.  It’s a political stunt.  And, by the way, they’re using taxpayer money to do it.  It’s your money that they’re wasting on this, which no serious lawyers think makes any sense.  It’s just a political stunt.  We could be spending the time, energy, and effort and money to help your families.

And maybe the folks behind this think it will help them politically.  I guarantee you, it’s not helping you.  We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let’s focus on our country, let’s focus on our people — a sense of common purpose, the understanding we rise or fall as one nation and as one people.  That’s how we built this country together.  And that’s what Washington has to remember.
And the one thing I know for certain — if we work together, if we believe in one another, then we’re going to keep on rebuilding our middle class.  We’re going to restore the American Dream for the next generation.  We will continue to make sure that America is the place where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started, you can make it if you try.  You’ve shown it here in Delaware.  We can show it all across the country.  We just need a little more focus in Washington.  So keep the pressure on everybody.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  Let’s build some bridges.  Let’s build some roads.  God bless America.

END
2:26 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Obama and Republic of Korea President Park’s Remarks before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-25-14 

Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea

4:21 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I would like to thank President Park for welcoming me here today.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come back to the Republic of Korea.  But I am very mindful that my visit comes at a time of deep mourning for the people of this nation and I know that President Park and the South Korean government are focused on responding to the tragedy of the ferry Sewol.

In our press conference later, President Park and I will have the opportunity to address a range of issues that we’ll be discussing here today.  But for now, I just wanted to express on behalf of the American people our deepest sympathies for the incredible and tragic loss that’s taken place.  As allies but also as friends, we join you in mourning the lost and the missing, and especially so many young people, students who represented the vitality and the future of this nation.

So, President Park, I thought that it would be appropriate and fitting for us to begin today by honoring the lost and the missing.  And our delegation, out of respect, would appreciate the opportunity to join together in a moment of silence.

(Moment of silence.)

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much for making this proposal to hold a moment of silence for the victims of the ferry Sewol.  Right after the tragic accident, you personally expressed your condolences and your sympathies, and you were unsparing in providing active U.S. assistance, including the dispatch of salvage vessels.  The Korean people draw great strength and courage from your kindness.

Just as the American people were able to rally together in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and were able to prevail over difficult times, so, too, I am sure that Korean people will, in fact, pull through this moment of crisis and be able to achieve the renewal of the Republic of Korea.

Mr. President, my sincere welcome to you once again on your visit to Korea, and may our summit meeting today kick off the next 60 years and produce very meaningful results that allow us to do so.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you, President Park.  The Republic of Korea is one of our strongest allies in the world.  I’m looking forward to our discussion and to reaffirming America’s unshakeable commitment to South Korea and its security.

One last point I wanted to make — I have with me this American flag that I believe our protocol people have.  In the United States, we have a tradition — after the loss of our servicemembers and veterans, we present a flag in their honor to their loved ones.  This flag was flown over the White House the same day as the sinking of the Sewol.  And in that spirit, I’m presenting this American flag to you and the people of the Republic of Korea on behalf of the American people.  It reflects our deep condolences, but also our solidarity with you during this difficult time, and our great pride in calling you an ally and a friend.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much again for sharing in our sorrow, the sorrow of the Korean people as well as the bereaved families, and for your gracious gesture.

END
4:30 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Remarks by President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Source: WH, 4-25-14

The War Memorial of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea

1:28 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon.  Annyeonghaseyo.  It is an honor to be here at the War Memorial of Korea.  In a few moments, I’ll lay a wreath to pay tribute to our servicemembers who’ve given their lives in defense of our freedom.  And tomorrow, I’ll address our troops and civilians at Yongsan Garrison.

I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.  And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment — becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

I know that each of you have traveled your own path to this moment.  You come from 14 different countries.  Some of you have called Seoul home.  But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary:  Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own.  Seven of you married an American soldier -– and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.

If there’s anything that this should teach us, it’s that America is strengthened by our immigrants.  I had a chance to talk to our Ambassador and our Commander here, and I said to them that there’s no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy.  We are a nation of immigrants — people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.

What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship.  Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.  And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.

If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind:  the value of our immigrants to our way of life.  It is central to who we are; it’s in our DNA.  It’s part of our creed.  And that means moving forward we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.

This is a huge advantage to us — the talent that we attract.  We don’t want to make it harder; we want to make it more sensible, more efficient.  That’s why I’m going to keep on pushing to get this done this year, so that others like the young men and women here have the opportunity to join our American family and serve our great nation.

Today, I’m thrilled that, in a few moments, I’ll get to call each of you my fellow Americans.  I am so proud to be sharing this stage with you today.  Congratulations.  But I don’t want to talk too long because I’m not the main event.  Thank you very much for your service.  (Applause.)

END
1:32 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo in Japan

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

Source: WH,  4-24-14

Miraikan Museum Tokyo, Japan

3:27 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Konnichiwa.  Please sit down.  Thank you so much.  Well, I want to thank Dr. Mohri and everyone at The Miraikan for welcoming me here today.  And it is wonderful to see all of these outstanding students.  Dr. Mohri is a veteran of two space shuttle missions, embodies the spirit that brings us here together —- the incredible cooperation in science and technology between Japan and the United States.

I want to thank all the students that I had a chance to meet with as we went around the various exhibits.  We heard a message from the international space station.  We saw some truly amazing robots — although I have to say the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.  They were amazing.  And these students showed me some of their experiments, including some soccer-playing robots that we just saw.  And all of the exhibits I think showed the incredible breakthroughs in technology and science that are happening every single day.

And historically, Japan and the United States have been at the cutting-edge of innovation.  From some of the first modern calculators decades ago to the devices that we hold in our hands today — the smartphones that I’m sure every young person here uses — Japan and the United States have often led the way in the innovations that change our lives and improve our lives.

And that’s why I’m so pleased that the United States and Japan are renewing the 10-year agreement that makes so much of our science and technology cooperation possible.  Both of our societies celebrate innovation, celebrate science, celebrate technology.  We’re close partners in the industries of tomorrow. And it reminds us why it’s so important for us to continue to invest in science, technology, math, engineering.  These are the schools — these are the skills that students like all of you are going to need for the global economy, and that includes our talented young women.

Historically, sometimes young women have been less represented in the sciences, and one of the things that I’ve really been pushing for is to make sure that young women, just like young men, are getting trained in these fields, because we need all the talent and brainpower to solve some of the challenges that we’re going to face in the future.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Abe and I announced a new initiative to increase student exchanges, including bringing more Japanese students to the United States.  So I hope you’ll come.  Welcome.  And it’s part of our effort to double students exchanges in the coming years.  As we saw today, young people like you have at your fingertips more technology and more power than even the greatest innovators in previous generations. So there’s no limit to what you can achieve, and the United States of America wants to be your partner.

So I’m very proud to have been here today.  I was so excited by what I saw.  The young people here were incredibly impressive.  And as one of our outstanding astronauts described, as we just are a few days after Earth Day, it’s important when we look at this globe and we think about how technology has allowed us to understand the planet that we share, and to understand not only the great possibilities but also the challenges and dangers from things like climate change — that your generation is going to help us to find answers to some of the questions that we have to answer.  Whether it’s:  How do we feed more people in an environment in which it’s getting warmer? How do we make sure that we’re coming up with new energy sources that are less polluting and can save our environment?  How do we find new medicines that can cure diseases that take so many lives around the globe?  To the robots that we saw that can save people’s lives after a disaster because they can go into places like Fukushima that it may be very dangerous for live human beings to enter into.  These are all applications, but it starts with the imaginations and the vision of young people like you.

So I’m very proud of all of you and glad to see that you’re doing such great work.  You have counterparts in the United States who share your excitement about technology and science.  I hope you get a chance to meet them.  I hope you get a chance to visit the United States.  As far as I know, we don’t have one of those cool globes, but we have some other pretty neat things in the United States as well.  And I hope we can share those with you if and when you come.

Thank you very much.  And I just want you to know in closing that I really believe that each of you can make a difference.  Gambatte kudasai.  You can do this thing if you apply yourselves.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END 3:33 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Toast at the State Dinner Held in his Honor at Japan’s Imperial Palace

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Toast Remarks by President Obama at State Dinner

Source: WH, 4-24-14 

Imperial Palace
Tokyo, Japan

7:48 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening.  Konbanwa.  Your Majesties, I thank you for the extraordinary welcome that you have given to me and my delegation today, and I thank you for your gracious hospitality tonight.

Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe, distinguished guests and friends:  It has been nearly 50 years since my mother first brought me to Japan, but I have never forgotten the kindness that the Japanese people showed me as a six-year-old boy far away from home.  I remain grateful for the welcome that Your Majesties gave me when I returned here as President, on the 20th anniversary of your ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

And I am deeply honored to be with you as a Guest of State tonight — which is a reflection of the great friendship between our two peoples.

It’s also very humbling.  I stand here as the 44th President of the United States. Your Majesty is the 125th Emperor of Japan. And your family has embodied the spirit of the Japanese people across more than two millennia.  And we feel that spirit here tonight — in His Majesty’s commitment to achieving peace and the resilience of the Japanese people, who despite difficult decades, despite the tragedies of three years ago, continue to inspire the world with your strength and discipline and dignity — your hinkaku.

And I saw that spirit today.  In the glory of the Meiji Shrine, I experienced the beauty of a religious ceremony rooted in Japan’s ancient past.  In my work with Prime Minister Abe, we have strengthened our alliance for today — an alliance that will never be broken.  And in the eager students that I met, and the remarkable technologies that I saw, I glimpsed the future our nations can forge together.

Through all of this, although we are separated by vast oceans, our peoples come together every day in every realm.  We create and build together, sparking new innovations for a changing world.  We study and research together, unlocking new discoveries to cure disease and save lives.  We go to the far corners of the Earth together — to keep the peace and feed the hungry.  And we go to space together to understand the mysteries of the universe.  We stand together in moments of joy — as when Japanese baseball players help propel America’s teams to victory. And we stand together in moments of difficulty and pain, as we did three years ago.

Your Majesty, we will never forget how, in those trying days, you spoke from this palace directly to the people of this nation. And I would like to conclude by recalling the spirit of your message then, because it also remains our wish tonight, for the friendship and alliance between our two peoples.

May we never give up hope.  May we always take care of each other.  And may we continue to live strong for tomorrow.

END
7:53 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 23, 2014: President Obama and Japan Prime Minister Abe’s Remarks Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-23-14 

Akasaka Palace
Tokyo, Japan

10:33 A.M. JST

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  On behalf of the government and the people of Japan, I would like to sincerely welcome President Obama as our state guest.

At the outset, I would like to once again express my heartfelt gratitude for the assistance from the United States in the aftermath of the great East Japan earthquake.  More than 20,000 servicemembers of the U.S. forces participated in Operation Tomodachi.  And as a matter of fact, Japanese people were greatly encouraged and helped by the assistance extended from the government and the people of the United States.  And I am truly grateful for that.

Japan has been walking on the path of peace based on its peaceful orientation in a consistent manner for the past 70 years after the Second World War.  Japan and the United States share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and fundamental human rights, and also we share strategic interests.  And the alliance between these two nations is indispensable and irreplaceable as the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific region.

Your visit to Asia this time is a testament to the U.S. revised policy which attaches importance to this region.  This greatly contributes to regional peace and prosperity, and Japan strongly supports and also certainly welcomes this.

My administration intends to contribute to regional peace and prosperity more practically than ever, in line with the policy of what I call practical contribution to peace based on the principle on international cooperation.  And together with the United States, Japan would like to realize our leading role of the alliance in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific.

Today, at this meeting, I look forward to having exchanges with you on how the alliance should look like in the future, based on the cooperation we have had so far.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your delegation, as well as the Japanese people for the incredibly gracious hospitality that you’ve provided us so far during this visit.

As you indicated, the U.S.-Japan alliance is the foundation for not only our security in the Asia Pacific region but also for the region as a whole.  And we have continued to strengthen it. We are looking at a whole range of issues that are challenging at this time, including the threats posed by North Korea and the nuclearization that’s been taking place in that country.  But because of the strong cooperation between our countries I am confident that we will continue to make progress in the future.

Of course, the bonds between our countries are not restricted to a military alliance.  We represent two of the three largest economies in the world, and we have the opportunity by working together to help shape an open and innovative and dynamic economy throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Our shared democratic values means that we have to work together in multilateral settings to deal with regional hotspots around the globe but also to try to make sure that we are creating a strong set of rules that govern the international order.  And the strong people-to-people bonds that we have and the educational and scientific and cultural exchanges that we have means that our friendship and alliance I’m confident will continue for generations to come.

So I look forward to very productive meetings today.  And I want to once again thank you for your hospitality.  As you said, my visit here I think once again represents my deep belief that a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is not only good for our countries but good for the world.

END
10:44 A.M. JST

Obama Presidency April 22-29, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Asia Trip Spring 2014 Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Asia Trip Spring 2014

The President’s Trip to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines

April 22 to April 29

President Obama’s fifth trip to Asia during his time in office will underscore a continued focus on the Asia-Pacific region and commitment to his vision of rebalancing to the world’s largest emerging region. The President’s visit to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines will focus on our major priorities in the region: modernizing our alliances; supporting democratic development; advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and commercial ties; investing in regional institutions; and deepening cultural and people-to-people ties.

April 24, 2014

On Board with President Obama in Japan

In Tokyo, the President was received at the Imperial Palace by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, held a press conference with Prime Minister Abe, visited students and robots at Miraikan Science and Youth Expo, and saw Meiji shrine.

April 21, 2014

Previewing the President’s Trip to Asia, Spring 2014

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes previews the President’s trip to Japan, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines during.


President Obama’s April 2014 Asia Trip Schedule

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama departs for Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

  • In the afternoon, President Obama arrives in Tokyo, Japan
  • Later, the President joins Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for a private dinner

Thursday, April 24, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama meets with Emperor Akihito of Japan at the Imperial Palace
  • The President meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at Akasaka Palace
  • In the afternoon, the President participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe
  • Later, President Obama delivers remarks at a youth and science event with students at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
  • The President visits Meiji Shrine
  • President Obama attends the Japan State Dinner and delivers remarks

Friday, April 25, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Japan
  • Later that morning, the President bids farewell to the Emperor Akihito of Japan
  • In the afternoon, President Obama travels to Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • The President visits the National War Memorial and participates in a wreath-laying ceremony
  • Later, the President visits Gyengbok Palace
  • President Obama meets with President Park at the Blue House

Saturday, April 26, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama participates in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy
  • Later, the President participates in a Combined Forces Command Briefing at Yongsan Garrison and delivers remarks
  • In the afternoon, the President travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony in Parliament Square
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner and delivers remarks at Istana Negara

Sunday, April 27, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia
  • Later, the President visits the National Mosque of Malaysia
  • President Obama meets with Prime Minister Najib Razak at Perdana Putra
  • In the afternoon, President Obama attends a working lunch with Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • The President delivers remarks at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center
  • Later, the President participates in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Malaysia

Monday, April 28, 2014

  • The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines
  • President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino
  • The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio
  • Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery
  • The President travels back to Washington, D.C.

Political Headlines July 24, 2013: President Barack Obama Nominates Caroline Kennedy as US Ambassador to Japan

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama to Nominate Caroline Kennedy as US Ambassador to Japan

ABC/Rick Rowell

President Obama will nominate former first daughter Caroline Kennedy as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, would be the first woman to serve in the role….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 08, 2013: President Barack Obama & People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping’s Remarks After Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China After Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 6-8-13 

President Barack Obama walks with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China on the grounds of the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., June 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Sunnylands Retreat
Rancho Mirage, California

8:09 P.M. PDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Everybody ready?  Well, I know we’re a little behind, but that’s mainly because President Xi and I had a very constructive conversation on a whole range of strategic issues, from North Korea to cyberspace to international institutions.  And I’m very much looking forward to continuing the conversation, not only tonight at dinner but also tomorrow.

But I thought we’d take a quick break just to take a question from both the U.S. and Chinese press.  So what I’ll do is I’ll start with Julie Pace and then President Xi can call on a Chinese counterpart.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  How damaging has Chinese cyber-hacking been to the U.S.?  And did you warn your counterpart about any specific consequences if those actions continue?  And also, while there are obviously differences between China’s alleged actions and your government’s surveillance programs, do you think that the new NSA revelations undermine your position on these issues at all during these talks?

And President Xi, did –

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Why don’t you let the interpreter –

Q    And President Xi, did you acknowledge in your talks with President Obama that China has been launching cyber attacks against the U.S.?  Do you also believe that the U.S. is launching similar attacks against China?  And if so, can you tell us what any of the targets may have been?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Julie, first of all, we haven’t had, yet, in-depth discussions about the cybersecurity issue.  We’re speaking at the 40,000-foot level, and we’ll have more intensive discussions during this evening’s dinner.

What both President Xi and I recognize is that because of these incredible advances in technology, that the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules and common approaches to cybersecurity are going to be increasingly important as part of bilateral relationships and multilateral relationships.

In some ways, these are uncharted waters and you don’t have the kinds of protocols that have governed military issues, for example, and arms issues, where nations have a lot of experience in trying to negotiate what’s acceptable and what’s not.  And it’s critical, as two of the largest economies and military powers in the world, that China and the United States arrive at a firm understanding of how we work together on these issues.

But I think it’s important, Julie, to get to the second part of your question, to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government around theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems — whether it’s our financial systems, our critical infrastructure and so forth — versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs.

When it comes to those cybersecurity issues like hacking or theft, those are not issues that are unique to the U.S.-China relationship.  Those are issues that are of international concern.  Oftentimes it’s non-state actors who are engaging in these issues as well.  And we’re going to have to work very hard to build a system of defenses and protections, both in the private sector and in the public sector, even as we negotiate with other countries around setting up common rules of the road.

And as China continues in its development process and more of its economy is based on research and innovation and entrepreneurship, they’re going to have similar concerns, which is why I believe we can work together on this rather than at cross-purposes.

Now, the NSA program, as I discussed this morning, is a very limited issue, but it does have broad implications for our society because you’ve got a lot of data out there, a lot of communications that are in cyberspace.  And how we deal with both identifying potential terrorists or criminals, how the private sector deals with potential theft, and how the federal government, state governments, local governments and the private sector coordinate to keep out some of these malicious forces while still preserving the openness and the incredible power of the Internet and the web and these new telecommunications systems — that’s a complicated and important piece of business.  But it’s different from these issues of theft and hacking.

And every government is then inevitably going to be involved in these issues, just like big companies are going to be involved in these issues.  I mean, you’ve got private companies that have a lot more data and a lot more details about people’s emails and telephone calls than the federal government does.  And if we’re called upon not only to make sure that we’re anticipating terrorist communications but we’re also called upon to work with the private sector to prevent theft out of ATMs, et cetera, then we’re going to have to find ways to deal with this big data in ways that are consistent with our values; in ways that protect people’s privacy, that ensure oversight, and strike the right balance.

And as I indicated this morning, that’s a conversation that I welcome having.

PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted.)  As President Obama said, in our meeting this afternoon we just briefly touched upon the issue of cybersecurity.  And the Chinese government is firm in upholding cybersecurity and we have major concerns about cybersecurity.

In the few days before President Obama and I meet today, I note sharp increased media coverage of the issue of cybersecurity.  This might give people the sense or feeling that cybersecurity as a threat mainly comes from China or that the issue of cybersecurity is the biggest problem in the China-U.S. relationship.

The application of new technology is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it will drive progress in ensuring better material and cultural life for the people.  On the other hand, it might create some problems for regulators and it might infringe upon the rights of states, enterprises, societies and individuals.

We need to pay close attention to this issue and study ways to effectively resolve this issue.  And this matter can actually be an area for China and the United States to work together with each other in a pragmatic way.  And I’m happy to learn that within the context of the China-U.S. strategic and economic dialogue, a working group has been established to discuss cybersecurity issues.  So this is an issue that the two sides will continue to discuss.

By conducting good-faith cooperation we can remove misgivings and make information security and cybersecurity a positive area of cooperation between China and the U.S.  Because China and the United States both have a need and both share a concern, and China is a victim of cyber attacks and we hope that earnest measures can be taken to resolve this matter.

Thank you.

Q    I’m with China Central Television and my question for President Xi is, what are the main issues that were discussed in the longer-than-expected meeting this afternoon?  And what are the major areas of consensus that have emerged from the discussion?  And last year, when you were visiting the United States, you raised the concept of the two sides working together to explore what you call a new model of major country relationship, something that is unprecedented in the relationship and that can inspire future generations.  And after this concept was raised, there has been much discussion and comment on it, both in China and the United States and in the world more broadly.  So did you have further discussion on this issue in your meeting this afternoon?

And my question for President Obama is, what will the United States do to contribute to the building of a new model of major country relationship between China and the U.S.?

PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted.)  In the first meeting that I’ve had with President Obama this afternoon, we had an in-depth, sincere and candid discussion on the domestic and foreign policies of China and the United States, on our joint work to build a new model of major country relationship, and our international and regional issues of mutual interest.  And the President and I reached important consensus on these issues.

I stated very clearly to President Obama that China will be firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and China will be firm in deepening reform and opening up the country wider to the world.  China will work hard to realize the Chinese dream of the great national renewal and will work hard to push forward the noble cause of peace and development for all mankind.

By the Chinese dream, we seek to have economic prosperity, national renewal and people’s well-being.  The Chinese dream is about cooperation, development, peace and win-win, and it is connected to the American Dream and the beautiful dreams people in other countries may have.

President Obama and I both believe that in the age of economic globalization and facing the objective need of countries sticking together in the face of difficulties, China and the United States must find a new path — one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past.  And that is to say the two sides must work together to build a new model of major country relationship based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation for the benefit of the Chinese and American peoples, and people elsewhere in the world.

The international community looks to China and the United States to deliver this.  When China and the United States work together, we can be an anchor for world stability and the propeller of world peace.

I stand ready to work with President Obama to expand on all levels of exchanges between the two sides.  I look forward to maintaining close communication with the President through mutual visits, bilateral meetings, exchange of letters and phone calls. And I invited President Obama to come to China at an appropriate time for a similar meeting like this.  And we look forward to visiting each other country.

At the same time, the two sides will work hard to make progress in the various bilateral mechanisms, such as the strategic and economic dialogue and the high-level consultation on people-to-people exchange.  Also, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Minister of National Defense will both make visits to the United States within the year.

Our two sides should also step up exchanges and cooperation in economy and trade, energy, environment, people-to-people, and cultural fields, as well as at the sub-national level, so that we can deepen the shared interests of the two countries and expand them to all areas.

We should also improve and strengthen the military-to-military relationship between the two countries and promote the building of a new model of military relationship between the two sides.  The two sides should also improve coordination microeconomic policies so that by strengthening cooperation, we can contribute to our respective development at home, and promote strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth in the Asia Pacific region and the world at large.

And I’m confident in our joint effort to build a new model of major country relationship.  I believe success hinges on the human effort.  Firstly, both sides have the political will to build this relationship.  Secondly, our cooperation in the last 40 years provides a good foundation for us to build on.  Thirdly, between China and the United States, there are over 90 intergovernmental mechanisms which provide the institutional underpinning for our efforts.

Fourth, there is strong public support for this kind of relationship between China and the United States.  There are 220 pairs of sister provinces, states and cities between China and the U.S.  There are 190,000 Chinese students in the United States, and 20,000 American students in China.

And 5th, there is enormous scope for future cooperation between China and the U.S.

Of course, this endeavor is unprecedented and one that will inspire future generations.  So we need to deepen our mutual understanding, strengthen our mutual trust, further develop our cooperation and manage our differences so that we can avoid the traditional path of inevitable confrontation between major countries and really embark on a new path.

The Chinese nation and American nation are great nations, and the Chinese people and American people are great peoples.  As long as we stand high and look far, as long as we make specific progress and accumulate them over time, as long as we maintain confidence and determination, as long as we have wisdom and patience, I’m confident that we will succeed in achieving this historical mission.

I’m sorry for going too long.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think President Xi summarized very well the scope of our conversations.  We spoke about some very specific issues — for example, President Xi mentioned the importance of military-to-military communications.  In the past, we’ve had high-level diplomatic communications about economic and strategic issues, but we haven’t always had as effective communications between our militaries.  And at a time when there’s so much activity around the world, it’s very important that we each understand our strategic objectives at the military as well as the political levels.  So that’s an example of concrete progress that can advance this new model of relations between the United States and China.

So we’ll be taking steps to institutionalize and regularize such discussions.  But more broadly, I think President Xi identified the essence of our discussions in which we shared our respective visions for our countries’ futures and agreed that we’re more likely to achieve our objectives of prosperity and security of our people if we are working together cooperatively, rather than engaged in conflict.

And I emphasized my firm belief to President Xi that it is very much in the interest of the United States for China to continue its peaceful rise, because if China is successful, that helps to drive the world economy and it puts China in the position to work with us as equal partners in dealing with many of the global challenges that no single nation can address by itself.

So, for example, neither country by itself can deal with the challenge of climate change.  That’s an issue that we’ll have to deal with together.  China as the largest country, as it continues to develop, will be a larger and larger carbon emitter unless we find new mechanisms for green growth.  The United States, we have the largest carbon footprint per capita in the world; we’ve got to bring down our carbon levels in order to accommodate continued growth.  And so that will translate then into opportunities for specific work around green technologies and research and development, and interactions between our scientists so that we can, together, help advance the goal of a sustainable planet, even as we continue to grow and develop.

We’ve got a lot of work to do to take these broad understandings down to the level of specifics, and that will require further discussions not only today and tomorrow, but for weeks, months, years to come.  But what I’m very encouraged about is that both President Xi and myself recognize we have a unique opportunity to take the U.S.-China relationship to a new level.  And I am absolutely committed to making sure that we don’t miss that opportunity.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
8:47 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 7, 2013: President Barack Obama & South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye’s Remarks at a Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Meets with President Park of South Korea

Source: WH, 5-7-13

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea, in the Oval Office, May 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Watch this video on YouTube

Today, President Obama welcomed President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to the White House to mark 60 years of bilateral partnership between our two nations.

Established following the Korean War, the US-ROK Alliance is a linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Asia Pacific region. And today, the two leaders affirmed that they would continue building on the past six decades of stability by strengthening and adapting the alliance to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.

“Guided by our joint vision, we’re investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together,” President Obama said. “And we’re determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security.”

President Obama and President Park also agreed to continue implementing the historic trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, which is already yielding benefits for both countries, President Obama said….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of South Korea in a Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 5-7-13 

East Room

1:44 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.

Let me begin by saying it is a great pleasure to welcome President Park and our friends from the Republic of Korea.  Madam President, we are greatly honored that you’ve chosen the United States as your first foreign visit.  This, of course, reflects the deep friendship between our peoples and the great alliance between our nations, which is marking another milestone.  I’m told that in Korea, a 60th birthday is a special celebration of life and longevity — a hwangap.  (Laughter.)    Well, this year, we’re marking the 60th anniversary of the defense treaty between our nations.

Yesterday, President Park visited Arlington National Cemetery and our memorial to our Korean War veterans.  Tonight, she’s hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the generation of American veterans who have served in the defense of South Korea. And tomorrow she’ll address a joint session of Congress — an honor that is reserved for our closest of friends.

And in this sense, this visit also reflects South Korea’s extraordinary progress over these six decades.  From the ashes of war, to one of the world’s largest economies; from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor that now helps other nations develop.  And of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture — the Korean Wave.  And as I mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam Style.  (Laughter.)

President Park, in your first months in office South Korea has faced threats and provocations that would test any nation.  Yet you’ve displayed calm and steady resolve that has defined your life.  Like people around the world, those of us in the United States have also been inspired by your example as the first female President of South Korea.  And today I’ve come to appreciate the leadership qualities for which you are known — your focus and discipline and straight-forwardness.  And I very much thank you for the progress that we’ve already made together.

Today, we agreed to continue the implementation of our historic trade agreement, which is already yielding benefits for both our countries.  On our side, we’re selling more exports to Korea — more manufactured goods, more services, more agricultural products.  Even as we have a long way to go, our automobile exports are up nearly 50 percent, and our Big Three — Ford, Chrysler and GM — are selling more cars in Korea.  And as President Park and I agreed to make sure that we continue to fully implement this agreement, we believe that it’s going to make both of our economies more competitive.  It will boost U.S. exports by some $10 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs.  And obviously it will be creating jobs in Korea as they are able to continue to do extraordinary work in expanding their economy and moving it further and further up the value chain.

We agreed to continue the clean energy partnerships that help us to enhance our energy security and address climate change.  Given the importance of a peaceful nuclear energy industry to South Korea, we recently agreed to extend the existing civilian nuclear agreement between our two countries — but we also emphasized in our discussions the need to continue to work diligently towards a new agreement.  As I told the President, I believe that we can find a way to support South Korea’s energy and commercial needs even as we uphold our mutual commitments to prevent nuclear proliferation.

We agreed to continuing modernizing our security alliance.  Guided by our joint vision, we’re investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together.  We are on track for South Korea to assume operational control for the alliance in 2015.  And we’re determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security.  And obviously that includes the threat from North Korea.

If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again.  President Park and South Koreans have stood firm, with confidence and resolve.  The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever.  And faced with new international sanctions, North Korea is more isolated than ever. In short, the days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions — those days are over.

Our two nations are prepared to engage with North Korea diplomatically and, over time, build trust.  But as always — and as President Park has made clear — the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

And we discussed that Pyongyang should take notice of events in countries like Burma, which, as it reforms, is seeing more trade and investment and diplomatic ties with the world, including the United States and South Korea.

For our part, we’ll continue to coordinate closely with South Korea and with Japan.  And I want to make clear the United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces.  As I said in Seoul last year, the commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.

More broadly, we agreed to continue expanding our cooperation globally.  In Afghanistan — where our troops serve together and where South Korea is a major donor of development assistance — we’re on track to complete the transition to Afghan-led operations by the end of next year.  We discussed Syria, where both our nations are working to strengthen the opposition and plan for a Syria without Bashar Assad.  And I’m pleased that our two nations — and our Peace Corps — have agreed to expand our efforts to promote development around the world.

Finally, we’re expanding the already strong ties between our young people.  As an engineer by training, President Park knows the importance of education.  Madam President, you’ve said — and I’m quoting you — “We live in an age where a single individual can raise the value of an entire nation.”  I could not agree more.  So I’m pleased that we’re renewing exchange programs that bring our students together.  And as we pursue common-sense immigration reform here in the United States, we want to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs and foreign graduate students from countries like Korea to stay and contribute to our country, just as so many Korean Americans already do.

So, again, thank you, President Park, for making the United States your first foreign trip.  In your inaugural address you celebrated the “can do” spirit of the Korean people.  That is a spirit that we share.  And after our meeting today, I’m confident that if our two nations continue to stand together, there’s nothing we cannot do together.

So, Madam President, welcome to the United States.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Let me start by thanking President Obama for his invitation and his gracious hospitality.

During my meeting with the President today, I was able to have a heart-to-heart talk with him on a wide range of common interests.  I found that the two us of have a broad common view about the vision and roles that should guide the Korea-U.S. alliance as it moves forward, and I was delighted to see this.

First of all, the President and I shared the view that the Korea-U.S. alliance has been faithfully carrying out its role as a bulwark of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and that the alliance should continue to serve as a linchpin for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia.  In this regard, I believe it is significant that the joint declaration on the 60th anniversary of our alliance we adopted spells out the direction that our comprehensive strategic alliance should take.

Next, the President and I reaffirmed that we will by no means tolerate North Korea’s threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further, and that such actions would only deepen North Korea’s isolation.  The President and I noted that it is important that we continue to strengthen our deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and conventional weapons threat, and shared the view that in this respect, the transition of wartime operational control should also proceed in a way that strengthens our combined defense capabilities and preparations being made toward that way as well.

We also shared the view that realizing President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons should start on the Korean Peninsula and we stated that we would continue to strongly urge North Korea, in close concert with the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community, to faithfully abide by its international obligations under the September 19th Joint Statement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Korea and the U.S. will work jointly to induce North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the Korean Peninsula trust-building process that I had spelled out.

I take this opportunity to once again send a clear message: North Korea will not be able to survive if it only clings to developing its nuclear weapons at the expense of its people’s happiness.  Concurrently pursuing nuclear arsenals and economic development can by no means succeed.

This is the shared view of the view of the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community.  However, should North Korea choose the path to becoming a responsible member of the community of nations, we are willing to provide assistance, together with the international community.

We also had meaningful discussions on the economy and ways to engage in substantive cooperation.  The President and I welcome the fact that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect one year ago, is contributing to our shared prosperity.  We also said we will make efforts to enable our people to better feel the benefits of our free trade agreement for them.

I highlighted the importance of securing high-skilled U.S. work visas for Korean citizens, and asked for executive branch support to the extent possible to see to it that the relevant legislation is passed in the U.S. Congress.

Moreover, we arrived at the view that the Korea-U.S. Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement should be revised into an advanced and mutually beneficial successor agreement.  We said we would do our best to conclude our negotiations as soon as possible.

The President and I also had in-depth discussions on ways to enhance our global partnership.  First, we noted together that Northeast Asia needs to move beyond conflict and divisions and open a new era of peace and cooperation, and that there would be synergy between President’s Obama’s policy of rebalancing to Asia and my initiative for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia as we pursue peace and development in the region.  We shared the view about playing the role of co-architects to flesh out this vision.

Furthermore, we decided that the Korea-U.S. alliance should deal not just with challenges relating to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, but confronting the broader international community.

I am very delighted that I was able to build personal trust with President Obama through our summit meeting today, and to have laid a framework for cooperation.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right, we’ve got a couple of questions from each side, so we’ll start with Stephen Collinson of AFP.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Does the United States have a core national security interest in stopping the slaughter in Syria, or merely a strong moral desire to see the violence end?  And at what point does the cost of not intervening in a more direct way than you have done so far outweigh the cost of doing so?

And if I may ask, President Park, President Obama’s critics have warned that failing to act on perceived violations of U.S. red lines in Syria could embolden U.S. enemies elsewhere, including in North Korea.  Are you convinced that Kim Jong-un has taken the U.S. and South Korean warnings seriously, and do you see the withdrawal of two missiles from a test site as a sign that he’s willing to deescalate the situation?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Stephen, I think that we have both a moral obligation and a national security interest in, A, ending the slaughter in Syria, but, B, also ensuring that we’ve got a stable Syria that is representative of all the Syrian people, and is not creating chaos for its neighbors.  And that’s why for the last two years we have been active in trying to ensure that Bashar Assad exits the stage, and that we can begin a political transition process.

That’s the reason why we’ve invested so much in humanitarian aid.  That’s the reason why we are so invested in helping the opposition; why we’ve mobilized the international community to isolate Syria.  That’s why we are now providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition, and that’s why we’re going to continue to do the work that we need to do.

And in terms of the costs and the benefits, I think there would be severe costs in doing nothing.  That’s why we’re not doing nothing.  That’s why we are actively invested in the process.  If what you’re asking is, are there continuing reevaluations about what we do, what actions we take in conjunction with other international partners to optimize the day when — or to hasten the day when we can see a better situation in Syria — we’ve been doing that all along and we’ll continue to do that.

I think that, understandably, there is a desire for easy answers.  That’s not the situation there.  And my job is to constantly measure our very real and legitimate humanitarian and national security interests in Syria, but measuring those against my bottom line, which is what’s in the best interest of America’s security and making sure that I’m making decisions not based on a hope and a prayer, but on hard-headed analysis in terms of what will actually make us safer and stabilize the region.

I would note — not to answer the question that you lobbed over to President Park — that you suggested even in your question a perceived crossing of a red line.  The operative word there, I guess, Stephen, is “perceived.”  And what I’ve said is that we have evidence that there has been the use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, but I don’t make decisions based on “perceived.”  And I can’t organize international coalitions around “perceived.”  We’ve tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn’t work out well.

So we want to make sure that we have the best analysis possible.  We want to make sure that we are acting deliberately. But I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something and it ended up getting done.  And there were times when there were folks on the sidelines wondering why hasn’t it happened yet and what’s going on and why didn’t it go on tomorrow?  But in the end, whether it’s bin Laden or Qaddafi, if we say we’re taking a position, I would think at this point the international community has a pretty good sense that we typically follow through on our commitments.

PRESIDENT PARK:  With regard to actions toward Syria, what kind of message would that communicate to North Korea? — that was the question.  And recently North Korea seems to be deescalating its threats and provocations — what seems to be behind that?  You asked these two questions.  In fact, North Korea is isolated at the moment, so it’s hard to find anyone that could really accurately fathom the situation in North Korea.  Its actions are all so very unpredictable.  Hence, whether the Syrian situation would have an impact is hard to say for sure.

Why is North Korea appearing to deescalate its threats and provocations?  There’s no knowing for sure.  But what is clear and what I believe for sure is that the international community with regard to North Korea’s bad behavior, its provocations, must speak with one voice — a firm message, and consistently send a firm message that they will not stand, and that North Korea’s actions in breach of international norms will be met with so-and-so sanctions and measures by the international community.  At the same time, if it goes along the right way, there will be so-and-so rewards.  So if we consistently send that message to North Korea, I feel that North Korea will be left with no choice but to change.

And instead of just hoping to see North Korea change, the international community must also consistently send that message with one voice to tell them and communicate to them that they have no choice but to change, and to shape an environment where they are left with no choice but to make the strategic decision to change.  And I think that’s the effective and important way.

Q    My question goes to President Park.  You just mentioned that North Korea — in order to induce North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, what is most important is the concerted actions of the international community.  With regard to this, during your meeting with President Obama today, I would like to ask what was said and the views that you shared.  And with regard to this, what Russia and China — the role that they’re playing in terms of inducing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, how do you feel about that?

My next question is to President Obama.  Regarding the young leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, I would appreciate your views about the leader of North Korea.  And if you were to send a message to him today, what kind of message would you send to him?
PRESIDENT PARK:  With regard to the North Korea issue, Korea and the United States, as well as the international community — the ultimate objective that all of us should be adopting is for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and to induce it to become a responsible member of the international community.  This serves the interest of peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world, and it also serves the interest of North Korea’s own development as well.  That is my view.

And so, in order to encourage North Korea to walk that path and change its perceptions, we have to work in concert.  And in this regard, China’s role, China’s influence can be extensive, so China taking part in these endeavors is important.  And we shared views on that.

With regard to China and Russia’s stance, I believe that China and Russia — not to mention the international community, of course — share the need for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and are cooperating closely to induce North Korea to take the right path.  In the case of China, with regard to North Korea’s missile fire and nuclear testing, China has taken an active part in adopting U.N. Security Council resolutions and is faithfully implementing those resolutions.

And with regard to Russia, Russia is also firmly committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  And with regard to the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, it has been very active in supporting them.  And they’ve also worked very hard to include a stern message to North Korea in the joint statement of the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting.  Such constructive efforts on the part of China and Russia are vital to sending a unified message to North Korea that their nuclear weapons will not stand, and encouraging and urging North Korea to make the right decision.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Obviously, I don’t know Kim Jong-un personally.  I haven’t had a conversation with him, can’t really give you an opinion about his personal characteristics.  What we do know is the actions that he’s taken have been provocative and seem to pursue a dead end.

And I want to emphasize, President Park and myself very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent capability; that we’re not going to reward provocative behavior. But we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path of denuclearization, abiding by international commitments, rejoining the international community, and seeing a gradual progression in which both security and prosperity for the people of North Korea can be achieved.

If what North Korea has been doing has not resulted in a strong, prosperous nation, then now is a good time for
Kim Jong-un to evaluate that history and take a different path.  And I think that, should he choose to take a different path, not only President Park and myself would welcome it, but the international community as a whole would welcome it.

And I think that China and Russia and Japan and other key players that have been participants in Six-Party talks have made that clear.  But there’s going to have to be changes in behavior. We have an expression in English:  Don’t worry about what I say; watch what I do.  And so far at least, we haven’t seen actions on the part of the North Koreans that would indicate they’re prepared to move in a different direction.

Christi Parsons.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The Pentagon said today that there may be as many as 70 sexual assaults a day in the military — up by 35 percent during your term in office — and also that many sexual assaults may not be reported, in fact.  Given what we know about an Air Force officer in charge of preventing sexual assault recently being charged with sexual assault, and also the recent cases of a couple of Air Force generals who’ve set aside convictions of instances of sexual assault, can you speak to the culture in the U.S. military that may be at play here and talk about your response to that and what you can do going forward to improve things?

And if I may, President Park, I would ask you — yesterday you said that if North Korea does not change its behavior, we will make them pay.  I wondered if you could elaborate on that comment a little bit.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let’s start with the principle that sexual assault is an outrage; it is a crime.  That’s true for society at large.  And if it’s happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they’re wearing.  And they may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this kind of behavior that’s not patriotic — it’s a crime.  And we have to do everything we can to root this out.

Now, this is not a new phenomenon.  One of the things that we’ve been trying to do is create a structure in which we’re starting to get accurate reporting.  And up and down the chain, we are seeing a process, a system of accountability and transparency so that we can root this out completely.

And this is a discussion that I had with Secretary Panetta. He had begun the process of moving this forward.  But I have directly spoken to Secretary Hagel already today and indicating to him that we’re going to have to not just step up our game, we have to exponentially step up our game, to go at this thing hard.

And for those who are in uniform who have experienced sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their Commander-In-Chief that I’ve got their backs.  I will support them.  And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability.  If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted.

And anybody in the military who has knowledge of this stuff should understand this is not who we are.  This is not what the U.S. military is about.  And it dishonors the vast majority of men and women in uniform who carry out their responsibilities and obligations with honor and dignity and incredible courage every single day.

So bottom line is I have no tolerance for this.  I have communicated this to the Secretary of Defense.  We’re going to communicate this again to folks up and down the chain in areas of authority, and I expect consequences.

So I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way.  If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.  Period.  It’s not acceptable.

PRESIDENT PARK:  Regarding North Korea’s provocations and bad behavior, we will make them pay — with regard to that, for instance, what I meant was that if they engage in military provocations and harm the lives of our people and the safety of our people, then naturally, as a President who gives the top priority to ensuring the safety of our people, it is something that we can’t just pass over.

So if North Korea engages in provocations, I will fully trust the judgment of our military.  So if our military makes a judgment which they feel is the right thing, then they should act accordingly.  And this is the instruction that I had made.

And North Korea has to pay a price when it comes not only with regard to provocations, but also with regard to the recent Kaesong industrial complex issue, where, based on agreements between the two sides, companies had believed in the agreement that was made and actually went to invest in the Kaesong industrial complex, but they suddenly completely dismissed and disregarded this agreement overnight, and denied various medical supplies and food supplies to Korean citizens left in that industrial complex, refusing to accept our request to allow in those supplies, which is what prompted us to withdraw all of our citizens from that park.  This situation unfolded in the full view of the international community.

So who would invest, not to mention Korean companies, but also companies of other countries, who would invest in North Korea in a place that shows such flagrant disregard for agreements, and how could they, under those circumstances, actually pull off economic achievement?  So I think in this regard, they’re actually paying the price for their own misdeeds.

Q    My question goes to President Obama.  President Park has been talking about the Korean Peninsula trust-building process as a way to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.  I wonder what you feel about this trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, as I indicated before, President Park’s approach is very compatible with my approach and the approach that we have been taking together for several years now. And I understand it, the key is that we will be prepared for a deterrence; that we will respond to aggression; that we will not reward provocative actions; but that we will maintain an openness to an engagement process when we see North Korea taking steps that would indicate that it is following a different path.  And that’s exactly the right approach.

All of us would benefit from a North Korea that transformed itself.  Certainly, the people of North Korea would benefit.  South Korea would be even stronger in a less tense environment on the peninsula.  All the surrounding neighbors would welcome such a transition, such a transformation.  But I don’t think either President Park or I are naïve about the difficulties of that taking place.  And we’ve got to see action before we can have confidence that that, in fact, is the path that North Korea intends to take.

But the one thing I want to emphasize, just based on the excellent meetings and consultation that we had today, as well as watching President Park over the last several months dealing with the provocative escalations that have been taking place in North Korea, what I’m very confident about is President Park is tough. I think she has a very clear, realistic view of the situation, but she also has the wisdom to believe that conflict is not inevitable and is not preferable.  And that’s true on the Korean Peninsula.  That’s true around the world.

And we very much appreciate her visit and look forward to excellent cooperation not only on this issue, but on the more positive issues of economic and commercial ties between our two countries, educational exchanges, work on energy, climate change, helping other countries develop.

I’ve had a wonderful time every time I’ve visited the Republic of Korea.  And what is clear is that the Republic of Korea is one of the great success stories of our lifetime.  And the Republic of Korea’s leadership around the globe will be increasingly important.  And what underpins that in part has been the extraordinary history of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea.  And we want to make sure that that remains a strong foundation for progress in the future.

So, thank you so much, Madam President.  (Applause.)

END
2:20 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency November 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Myanmar Speech at the University of Yangon, Rangoon, Burma

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Promises Support for the People of Burma

Source: WH, 11-19-12

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Yangon (November 19, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Yangon in Rangoon, Burma, Nov. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by President Obama at the University of Yangon

Rangoon, Burma

2:39 P.M. MMT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Myanmar Naingan, Mingalaba!  (Laughter and applause.)  I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first President of the United States of America to visit your country.

I came here because of the importance of your country.  You live at the crossroads of East and South Asia.  You border the most populated nations on the planet.  You have a history that reaches back thousands of years, and the ability to help determine the destiny of the fastest growing region of the world.

I came here because of the beauty and diversity of your country.  I have seen just earlier today the golden stupa of Shwedagon, and have been moved by the timeless idea of metta — the belief that our time on this Earth can be defined by tolerance and by love.  And I know this land reaches from the crowded neighborhoods of this old city to the homes of more than 60,000 villages; from the peaks of the Himalayas, the forests of Karen State, to the banks of the Irrawady River.

I came here because of my respect for this university.  It was here at this school where opposition to colonial rule first took hold.  It was here that Aung San edited a magazine before leading an independence movement.  It was here that U Thant learned the ways of the world before guiding it at the United Nations.  Here, scholarship thrived during the last century and students demanded their basic human rights.  Now, your Parliament has at last passed a resolution to revitalize this university and it must reclaim its greatness, because the future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth.

I came here because of the history between our two countries.  A century ago, American traders, merchants and missionaries came here to build bonds of faith and commerce and friendship.  And from within these borders in World War II, our pilots flew into China and many of our troops gave their lives.  Both of our nations emerged from the British Empire, and the United States was among the first countries to recognize an independent Union of Burma.  We were proud to found an American Center in Rangoon and to build exchanges with schools like this one.  And through decades of differences, Americans have been united in their affection for this country and its people.

Above all, I came here because of America’s belief in human dignity.  Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers.  But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you.  You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage.

We saw the activists dressed in white visit the families of political prisoners on Sundays and monks dressed in saffron protesting peacefully in the streets.  We learned of ordinary people who organized relief teams to respond to a cyclone, and heard the voices of students and the beats of hip-hop artists projecting the sound of freedom.  We came to know exiles and refugees who never lost touch with their families or their ancestral home.  And we were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart.

When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear.  I said, in my inauguration address, “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”  And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.  Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform.  A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself.  The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament.  Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned.  Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy.

So today, I’ve come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship.  America now has an Ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world.  But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go.  Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation.  The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished — they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people.

And your success in that effort is important to the United States, as well as to me.  Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams:  to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities.  That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible — not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives.

One of our greatest Presidents in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understood this truth.  He defined America’s cause as more than the right to cast a ballot.  He understood democracy was not just voting.  He called upon the world to embrace four fundamental freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  These four freedoms reinforce one another, and you cannot fully realize one without realizing them all.

So that’s the future that we seek for ourselves, and for all people.  And that is what I want to speak to you about today.

First, we believe in the right of free expression so that the voices of ordinary people can be heard, and governments reflect their will — the people’s will.

In the United States, for more than two centuries, we have worked to keep this promise for all of our citizens — to win freedom for those who were enslaved; to extend the right to vote for women and African Americans; to protect the rights of workers to organize.

And we recognize no two nations achieve these rights in exactly the same way, but there is no question that your country will be stronger if it draws on the strength of all of its people.  That’s what allows nations to succeed.  That’s what reform has begun to do.

Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected.  Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted.  And as you take these steps, you can draw on your progress.  Instead of being ignored, citizens who protested the construction of the Myitsone dam were heard.  Instead of being outlawed, political parties have been allowed to participate.  You can see progress being made.  As one voter said during the parliamentary elections here, “Our parents and grandparents waited for this, but never saw it.”  And now you can see it.  You can taste freedom.

And to protect the freedom of all the voters, those in power must accept constraints.  That’s what our American system is designed to do.  Now, America may have the strongest military in the world, but it must submit to civilian control.  I, as the President of the United States, make determinations that the military then carries out, not the other way around.  As President and Commander-In-Chief, I have that responsibility because I’m accountable to the people.

Now, on other hand, as President, I cannot just impose my will on Congress — the Congress of the United States — even though sometimes I wish I could.  The legislative branch has its own powers and its own prerogatives, and so they check my power and balance my power.  I appoint some of our judges, but I cannot tell them how to rule, because every person in America — from a child living in poverty to me, the President of the United States — is equal under the law.  And a judge can make a determination as to whether or not I am upholding the law or breaking the law.  And I am fully accountable to that law.

And I describe our system in the United States because that’s how you must reach for the future that you deserve — a future where a single prisoner of conscience is one too many.  You need to reach for a future where the law is stronger than any single leader, because it’s accountable to the people.  You need to reach for a future where no child is made to be a soldier and no woman is exploited, and where the laws protect them even if they’re vulnerable, even if they’re weak; a future where national security is strengthened by a military that serves under civilians and a Constitution that guarantees that only those who are elected by the people may govern.

On that journey, America will support you every step of the way — by using our assistance to empower civil society; by engaging your military to promote professionalism and human rights; and by partnering with you as you connect your progress towards democracy with economic development.  So advancing that journey will help you pursue a second freedom — the belief that all people should be free from want.

It’s not enough to trade a prison of powerlessness for the pain of an empty stomach.  But history shows that governments of the people and by the people and for the people are far more powerful in delivering prosperity.  And that’s the partnership we seek with you.

When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you.  And that’s why reforms must ensure that the people of this nation can have that most fundamental of possessions — the right to own the title to the land on which you live and on which you work.

When your talents are unleashed, then opportunity will be created for all people.  America is lifting our ban on companies doing business here, and your government has lifted restrictions on investment and taken steps to open up your economy.  And now, as more wealth flows into your borders, we hope and expect that it will lift up more people.  It can’t just help folks at the top.  It has to help everybody.  And that kind of economic growth, where everybody has opportunity — if you work hard, you can succeed — that’s what gets a nation moving rapidly when it comes to develop.

But that kind of growth can only be created if corruption is left behind.  For investment to lead to opportunity, reform must promote budgets that are transparent and industry that is privately owned.

To lead by example, America now insists that our companies meet high standards of openness and transparency if they’re doing business here.  And we’ll work with organizations like the World Bank to support small businesses and to promote an economy that allows entrepreneurs, small businesspeople to thrive and allows workers to keep what they earn.  And I very much welcome your government’s recent decision to join what we’ve called our Open Government Partnership, so that citizens can come to expect accountability and learn exactly how monies are spent and how your system of government operates.

Above all, when your voices are heard in government, it’s far more likely that your basic needs will be met.  And that’s why reform must reach the daily lives of those who are hungry and those who are ill, and those who live without electricity or water.  And here, too, America will do our part in working with you.

Today, I was proud to reestablish our USAID mission in this country, which is our lead development agency.  And the United States wants to be a partner in helping this country, which used to be the rice bowl of Asia, to reestablish its capacity to feed its people and to care for its sick, and educate its children, and build its democratic institutions as you continue down the path of reform.

This country is famous for its natural resources, and they must be protected against exploitation.  And let us remember that in a global economy, a country’s greatest resource is its people.  So by investing in you, this nation can open the door for far more prosperity — because unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people, especially its young people.

Just as education is the key to America’s future, it is going to the be the key to your future as well.  And so we look forward to working with you, as we have with many of your neighbors, to extend that opportunity and to deepen exchanges among our students.  We want students from this country to travel to the United States and learn from us, and we want U.S. students to come here and learn from you.

And this truth leads me to the third freedom that I want to discuss:  the freedom to worship — the freedom to worship as you please, and your right to basic human dignity.

This country, like my own country, is blessed with diversity.  Not everybody looks the same.  Not everybody comes from the same region.  Not everybody worships in the same way.  In your cities and towns, there are pagodas and temples, and mosques and churches standing side by side.  Well over a hundred ethnic groups have been a part of your story.  Yet within these borders, we’ve seen some of the world’s longest running insurgencies, which have cost countless lives, and torn families and communities apart, and stood in the way of development.

No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation.  (Applause.)  You now have a moment of remarkable opportunity to transform cease-fires into lasting settlements, and to pursue peace where conflicts still linger, including in Kachin State.  Those efforts must lead to a more just and lasting peace, including humanitarian access to those in need, and a chance for the displaced to return home.

Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there.  For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution.  But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people.  And the Rohingya hold themselves — hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.

National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity, and for the sake of this country’s future, it is necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence.  And I welcome the government’s commitment to address the issues of injustice and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship.  That’s a vision that the world will support as you move forward.

Every nation struggles to define citizenship.  America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because we’re a nation of immigrants — people coming from every different part of the world.  But what we’ve learned in the United States is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice.  The right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from.

Only the people of this country ultimately can define your union, can define what it means to be a citizen of this country.  But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness.  Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity.  You have to recognize that strength.

I say this because my own country and my own life have taught me the power of diversity.  The United States of America is a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Buddhists, and Hindus and non-believers.  Our story is shaped by every language; it’s enriched by every culture.  We have people from every corners of the world.  We’ve tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation, but our history shows us that hatred in the human heart can recede; that the lines between races and tribes fade away.  And what’s left is a simple truth: e pluribus unum — that’s what we say in America.  Out of many, we are one nation and we are one people.  And that truth has, time and again, made our union stronger.  It has made our country stronger.  It’s part of what has made America great.

We amended our Constitution to extend the democratic principles that we hold dear.  And I stand before you today as President of the most powerful nation on Earth, but recognizing that once the color of my skin would have denied me the right to vote.  And so that should give you some sense that if our country can transcend its differences, then yours can, too.  Every human being within these borders is a part of your nation’s story, and you should embrace that.  That’s not a source of weakness, that’s a source of strength — if you recognize it.

And that brings me to the final freedom that I will discuss today, and that is the right of all people to live free from fear.

In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams.  Fear of conflict and the weapons of war.  Fear of a future that is different from the past.  Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy.  Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way.  In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear.  She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it — “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

That’s the fear that you can leave behind.  We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people’s fears.  We see it in citizens who insist that this time must be different, that this time change will come and will continue.  As Aung San Suu Kyi wrote: “Fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”  I believe that.  And today, you are showing the world that fear does not have to be the natural state of life in this country.

That’s why I am here.  That’s why I came to Rangoon.  And that’s why what happens here is so important — not only to this region, but to the world.  Because you’re taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people.  This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place.

The United States of America is a Pacific nation, and we see our future as bound to those nations and peoples to our West.  And as our economy recovers, this is where we believe we will find enormous growth.  As we have ended the wars that have dominated our foreign policy for a decade, this region will be a focus for our efforts to build a prosperous peace.

Here in Southeast Asia, we see the potential for integration among nations and people.  And as President, I have embraced ASEAN for reasons that go beyond the fact that I spent some of my childhood in this region, in Indonesia.  Because with ASEAN, we see nations that are on the move — nations that are growing, and democracies that are emerging; governments that are cooperating; progress that’s building on the diversity that spans oceans and islands and jungles and cities, peoples of every race and every religion.  This is what the 21st century should look like if we have the courage to put aside our differences and move forward with a sense of mutual interest and mutual respect.

And here in Rangoon, I want to send a message across Asia: We don’t need to be defined by the prisons of the past.  We need to look forward to the future.  To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice:  let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress.  If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America.

In 2012, we don’t need to cling to the divisions of East, West and North and South.  We welcome the peaceful rise of China, your neighbor to the North; and India, your neighbor to the West.  The United Nations — the United States will work with any nation, large or small, that will contribute to a world that is more peaceful and more prosperous, and more just and more free.  And the United States will be a friend to any nation that respects the rights of its citizens and the responsibilities of international law.

That’s the nation, that’s the world that you can start to build here in this historic city.  This nation that’s been so isolated can show the world the power of a new beginning, and demonstrate once again that the journey to democracy goes hand in hand with development.  I say this knowing that there are still countless people in this country who do not enjoy the opportunities that many of you seated here do.  There are tens of millions who have no electricity.  There are prisoners of conscience who still await release.  There are refugees and displaced peoples in camps where hope is still something that lies on the distant horizon.

Today, I say to you — and I say to everybody that can hear my voice — that the United States of America is with you, including those who have been forgotten, those who are dispossessed, those who are ostracized, those who are poor.  We carry your story in our heads and your hopes in our hearts, because in this 21st century with the spread of technology and the breaking down of barriers, the frontlines of freedom are within nations and individuals, not simply between them.

As one former prisoner put it in speaking to his fellow citizens, “Politics is your job.  It’s not only for [the] politicians.”  And we have an expression in the United States that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen — not President, not Speaker, but citizen.  (Applause.)

So as extraordinary and difficult and challenging and sometimes frustrating as this journey may seem, in the end, you, the citizens of this country, are the ones who must define what freedom means.  You’re the ones who are going to have to seize freedom, because a true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts.  It requires the kind of courage that so many of your leaders have already displayed.

The road ahead will be marked by huge challenges, and there will be those who resist the forces of change.  But I stand here with confidence that something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed, and the will of the people can lift up this nation and set a great example for the world.  And you will have in the United States of America a partner on that long journey.  So, cezu tin bad de.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:10 P.M. MMT

Full Text Obama Presidency November 18, 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speeches, Press Conferences & Bilateral Meetings during Southeast Asia Trip to Thailand, Myanmar, Burma

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:







Political Headlines November 18, 2012: President Barack Obama Defends Myanmar Visit, ‘Not An Endorsement’ at a joint press conference with Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Defends Myanmar Visit, ‘Not An Endorsement’

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-18-12

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

President Obama Sunday defended his decision to visit Myanmar against critics who say the trip is premature, saying it’s “an acknowledgement” of the country’s democratic progress but not “an endorsement.”

“I don’t think anybody’s under any illusion that Burma has arrived, that they’re where they need to be,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. “On the other hand, if we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is we’d be waiting an awful long time.”

“One of the goals of this trip is to highlight the progress that has been made but also to give voice to the much greater progress that needs to be made in the future,” he said….READ MORE

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