Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution in Israel Speech

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-21-13

Yin Dongxun-Pool/Getty Images

Speaking before a young Israeli audience in Jerusalem, President Obama Thursday delivered an impassioned plea for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peaceful two-state solution while he affirmed the “unbreakable bonds of friendship” between the United States and Israel.

“The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” President Obama said at the Jerusalem Convention Center. “Peace is necessary, but peace is also just.”…READ MORE

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Full Text Obama Presidency March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama & President Shimon Peres of Israel’s Speeches at State Dinner

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President and President Peres of Israel at State Dinner

Source: WH, 3-21-13

President’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:15 P.M. IST

PRESIDENT PERES:  I think that’s the President’s remarks.  Mr. President, can I read your speech?  (Laughter.)  They are mistaken.  (Laughter.)

President Barack Obama, my dear friend, let me say first, Bravo.  Bravo, President.  (Applause.)

It is my great pleasure to welcome you tonight.  I was moved the way in which you spoke to the heart of our young Israelis.  Our youngsters, in time of need, are always willing to stand up and defend their country.  Today, you have seen how much the same young people long for peace.  How enthusiastic they were, how engaged they were, listening to the vision of peace, which you beautifully delivered and moved the heart.

Mr. President, this morning several rockets were shot from the Gaza Strip towards civilian targets in Israel, including Sderot that you have visited.  From here, in the name of all us, I want to convey our love to the inhabitants of the south around Gaza who carry this heavy burden courageously and continue to plow their land, plant their trees, raise their children.  It is an inspiration to each of us.  Today, the enemies of peace spoke in the only language they know — the language of terror.  I am convinced that together we shall defeat them.

Dear Barack, your visit here is a historic event.  We are so happy to receive you and your distinguished delegation.  I am very glad to see Secretary John Kerry — an old friend.  John, I know you are and I know you will be successful.  I’m not sure that the prophets have had speechwriters — (laughter) — but if they had, I imagine Isaiah would have said — but actually he has said on that occasion — and I’m quoting him, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.” Well, you have to be satisfied with my language — I cannot speak like him.  (Laughter.)

It is my privilege to present you with our country’s highest honor — the Medal of Distinction.  This award speaks to you, to your tireless work to make Israel strong, to make peace possible. Your presidency has given the closest ties between Israel and the United States a new height, a sense of intimacy, a vision for the future.

The people of Israel are particularly moved by your unforgettable contribution to their security.  You are defending our skies — to you, revelation in the name of intelligence, which is the right way to preempt bloodshed.  The diplomatic and the military bonds between us have reached an unprecedented level.

When I visited you in Washington, I thought in my heart, America is so great and we are so small.  I learned that you don’t measure us by size, but by values.  Thank you.  When it comes to values, we are you, and you are us.  On occasions when we were alone you stood with us, so we were not alone.  We were alone together.  We shall never forget it.

During your previous visit to Israel, you asked me if I had any advice to offer.  Well, it’s not my nature to let questions go unanswered.  (Laughter.)  So just that while people say that the future belongs to the young, it is the present that really belongs to the young.  Leave the future to me.  I have time.  (Laughter and applause.)

I think I was right, because the moment you came into office, you immediately had to face daunting and demanding challenges day in, day out.  I prayed that you would meet them with wisdom and determination, without losing hope, without allowing others to lose hope.  The prayers were answered — after all, they came from Jerusalem and they came to us as a great message.  It is a tribute to your leadership, to the strength of your character, to your principles, that you have never surrendered to hopelessness.  You stood and stand firmly by your vision.  Your values serve your nation.  They serve our nation as well.

So I know that you will never stop to strive for a better world, as you said today in a good Hebrew — tikkun olam.  We have a rich heritage and a great dream.  As I look back, I feel that the Israel of today has exceeded the vision we had 65 years ago.  Reality has surpassed the dreams.  The United States of America helped us to make this possible.

Still the path to tomorrow may be fraught with obstacles.  I believe that we can overcome them by our determination and by your commitment.  I’m convinced that you will do whatever is necessary to free the world’s horizons and the skies of Jerusalem from the Iranian threat.  Iran denies the Shoah and calls for a new one.  Iran is building a nuclear bomb and denies it.  The Iranian regime is the greatest danger to world peace.  History has shown time and again that peace, prosperity and stable civil society cannot flourish when threats and belligerency abound.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Iranian people are celebrating their New Year.  I wish them from the depths of my heart a happy holiday and a real freedom.

Israel will seize any opportunity for peace.  Being small, we have to maintain our qualitative edge.  I know that you responded and will respond to it.  The strength of Israel is its defense forces.  They afford us the ability to seek peace.  And what America has contributed to Israel’s security is the best guarantee to end the march of folly, the march of terror and bloodshed.

We watch with admiration the way you lead the United States of America, the way you have stayed true time and again to your bonds of friendship with us.  Your commitment and deeds speaks volumes about the principles that guides America.  To strive for freedom and democracy at home, but also all over the world, you send the boys to fight for the freedom of others.  What is uplifting is that the United States brought freedom not only to its own people, but never stops, and never will stop, to help other people to become free.

You represent democracy at its best.  You have deepened its meaning — namely that democracy is not just the right to be equal, but the equal right to be different.  Democracy is not just a free expression, but is self-expression as well.

You exemplify the spirit of democracy by striving for justice and equality and opportunity in the American society.  As the world has now become global and yet remains individual, and you offer those principles.  You have shown global responsibility and individual sensitivity.

On Monday night, Mr. President, we shall celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom, the Celebration of Spring.  The Celebration of Spring means our journey from the house of slaves to the home of the free that started more than 3,000 years ago. We remember it every year.  We are commended to feel as though each of us personally participated in that journey.  We shall not forget where we came from.  We shall remember always where we are headed, too, which is to make the Promised Land a land of promise, a land of freedom, justice and equality.

While reality calls for vigilance, Passover calls to remain believers.  Israel is an island in a stormy sea.  We have to make our island safe and we wish that the sea will become tranquil.  We converted our desert into a garden.  It was achieved by the talents of our people and the potential of science.  What we have done, Mr. President, can be done all over the Middle East, as you have rightly said tonight.  Israel is described as a start-up nation.  The Middle East can become a start-up region.

Dear President, you noted in your address today that peace is the greatest hope for the human being.  I share your vision.  Your call to reopen the peace process may pave the way for the implementation of the two-state solution agreed by all of us — as you said, a Jewish state, Israel; an Arab state, Palestine.

If I’m not wrong, next to you sits our Prime Minister who was just reelected.  He opened his address in the Knesset by reiterating his commitment to the two-state solution.  Dear friends, I have seen in my life I earned the right to believe that peace is attainable.  As you felt today, I know, this is the deep conviction of our people.  With our resolve and your support, Barack Obama, we shall win and it will happen.

Mr. President, I am privileged to bestow upon you the Medal of Distinction.  It was recommended by a committee of seven prominent Israeli citizens, headed by our former Chief of Justice Meir Shamgar, and includes our former President Yitzhak Navon.  It was my view and I was glad to accept their recommendation.  You inspired the world with your leadership.  Toda raba, Mr. President.  Toda from a grateful nation to a very great leader.

God bless America.  God bless Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Peres; Prime Minister Netanyahu and First Lady Sara; distinguished guests and friends.  This is a extraordinary honor for me and I could not be more deeply moved. And I have to say, after the incredible welcome I’ve received over the past two days and the warmth of the Israeli people, the tribute from President Peres, the honor of this medal — I mean, as you say, dayenu.  ((Applause.)

Now, I’m told that the Talmud teaches that you shouldn’t pronounce all the praises of a person in their presence.  And, Mr. President, if I praised all the chapters of your remarkable life, then we would be here all night.  (Laughter.)  So let me simply say this about our gracious host.

Mr. President, the State of Israel has been the cause of your life — through bitter wars and fragile peace, through hardship and prosperity.  You’ve built her.  You’ve cared for her.  You’ve strengthened her.  You’ve nurtured the next generation who will inherit her.

Ben Gurion.  Meir.  Begin.  Rabin.  These giants have left us.  Only you are with us still — a founding father in our midst.  And we are so grateful for your vision, your friendship, but most of all, for your example, including the example of your extraordinary vitality.  Every time I see your President I ask him who his doctor is.  (Laughter.)  We all want to know the secret.

So, with gratitude for your life and your service, and as you prepare to celebrate your 90th birthday this summer — and since I’m starting to get pretty good at Hebrew — (laughter) — let me propose a toast — even though you’ve taken away my wine
— (laughter.)  Come on.  Bring another.

How are you?

SERVER:  Here you are, sir.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A toast — ad me’ah ve’esrim.  L’chaim! (Applause.)  Mmm, that’s good wine.  (Laughter.)  Actually, we should probably get this out of the photograph.  All these people will say I’m having too much fun in Israel.  (Laughter.)

Just a few more words, Mr. President.  You mentioned that this medal is presented in recognition of progress toward the ideals of equality and opportunity and justice.  But I am mindful that I stand here tonight because of so many others, including the example and the sacrifices of the Jewish people.

In a few days, as we do at every Seder, we’ll break and hide a piece of matzoh.  It’s a great way to entertain the kids.  Malia and Sasha, even though they are getting older, they still enjoy it — and there are a lot of good places to hide it in the White House.  (Laughter.)  But on a much deeper level, it speaks to the scope of our human experience — how parts of our lives can be broken while other parts can be elusive; how we can never give up searching for the things that make us whole.  And few know this better than the Jewish people.

After slavery and decades in the wilderness and with Moses gone, the future of the Israelites was in doubt.  But with Joshua as their guide, they pushed on to victory.  After the First Temple was destroyed, it seemed Jerusalem was lost.  But with courage and resolve, the Second Temple reestablished the Jewish presence.  After centuries of persecution and pogroms, the Shoah aimed to eliminate the entire Jewish people.  But the gates of the camps flew open, and there emerged the ultimate rebuke to hate and to ignorance — survivors would live and love again.

When the moment of Israel’s independence was met by aggression on all sides, it was unclear whether this nation would survive.  But with heroism and sacrifice, the State of Israel not only endured, but thrived.  And during six days in June and Yom Kippur one October, it seemed as though all you had built might be lost.  But when the guns fell silent it was clear — “the nation of Israel lives.”

As I said in my speech earlier today, this story — from slavery to salvation, of overcoming even the most overwhelming odds — is a message that’s inspired the world.  And that includes Jewish Americans but also African Americans, who have so often had to deal with their own challenges, but with whom you have stood shoulder to shoulder.

African Americans and Jewish Americans marched together at Selma and Montgomery, with rabbis carrying the Torah as they walked.  They boarded buses for freedom rides together.  They bled together.  They gave their lives together — Jewish Americans like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner alongside  African American, James Chaney.

Because of their sacrifice, because of the struggle of generations in both our countries, we can come together tonight, in freedom and in security.  So if I can paraphrase the Psalm — they turned our mourning into dancing; they changed our sack cloths into robes of joy.

And this evening, I’d like to close with the words of two leaders who brought us some of this joy.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in Poland and lost his mother and sisters to the Nazis.  He came to America.  He raised his voice for social justice.  He marched with Martin Luther King.  And he spoke of the State of Israel in words that could well describe the struggle for equality in America.  “Our very existence is a witness that man must live toward redemption,” he said, and “that history is not always made by man alone.”

Rabbi Joachim Prinz was born in Germany, expelled by the Nazis and found refuge in America, and he built support for the new State of Israel.  And on that August day in 1963, he joined Dr. King at the March on Washington.  And this is what Rabbi Prinz said to the crowd:

“In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor.  Neighbor is not a geographic concept.  It is a moral concept.  It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.”

President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, friends — our very existence, our presence here tonight, is a testament that all things are possible, even those things that, in moments of darkness and doubt, may seem elusive.  The stories of our peoples teach us to never stop searching for the things — the justice and the peace — that make us whole.  And so we go forward together, with confidence, we’ll know that while our countries may be separated by a great ocean, in the realm of the spirit we will always be neighbors and friends.

I very humbly accept this award, understanding that I’m accepting it on behalf of the American people, who are joined together with you.

May God bless you and may He watch over our two great nations.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:44 P.M. IST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama & Israel President Shimon Peres’s Speeches at State Dinner

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President and President Peres of Israel at State Dinner

Source: WH, 3-21-13

President’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:15 P.M. IST

PRESIDENT PERES:  I think that’s the President’s remarks.  Mr. President, can I read your speech?  (Laughter.)  They are mistaken.  (Laughter.)

President Barack Obama, my dear friend, let me say first, Bravo.  Bravo, President.  (Applause.)

It is my great pleasure to welcome you tonight.  I was moved the way in which you spoke to the heart of our young Israelis.  Our youngsters, in time of need, are always willing to stand up and defend their country.  Today, you have seen how much the same young people long for peace.  How enthusiastic they were, how engaged they were, listening to the vision of peace, which you beautifully delivered and moved the heart.

Mr. President, this morning several rockets were shot from the Gaza Strip towards civilian targets in Israel, including Sderot that you have visited.  From here, in the name of all us, I want to convey our love to the inhabitants of the south around Gaza who carry this heavy burden courageously and continue to plow their land, plant their trees, raise their children.  It is an inspiration to each of us.  Today, the enemies of peace spoke in the only language they know — the language of terror.  I am convinced that together we shall defeat them.

Dear Barack, your visit here is a historic event.  We are so happy to receive you and your distinguished delegation.  I am very glad to see Secretary John Kerry — an old friend.  John, I know you are and I know you will be successful.  I’m not sure that the prophets have had speechwriters — (laughter) — but if they had, I imagine Isaiah would have said — but actually he has said on that occasion — and I’m quoting him, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.” Well, you have to be satisfied with my language — I cannot speak like him.  (Laughter.)

It is my privilege to present you with our country’s highest honor — the Medal of Distinction.  This award speaks to you, to your tireless work to make Israel strong, to make peace possible. Your presidency has given the closest ties between Israel and the United States a new height, a sense of intimacy, a vision for the future.

The people of Israel are particularly moved by your unforgettable contribution to their security.  You are defending our skies — to you, revelation in the name of intelligence, which is the right way to preempt bloodshed.  The diplomatic and the military bonds between us have reached an unprecedented level.

When I visited you in Washington, I thought in my heart, America is so great and we are so small.  I learned that you don’t measure us by size, but by values.  Thank you.  When it comes to values, we are you, and you are us.  On occasions when we were alone you stood with us, so we were not alone.  We were alone together.  We shall never forget it.

During your previous visit to Israel, you asked me if I had any advice to offer.  Well, it’s not my nature to let questions go unanswered.  (Laughter.)  So just that while people say that the future belongs to the young, it is the present that really belongs to the young.  Leave the future to me.  I have time.  (Laughter and applause.)

I think I was right, because the moment you came into office, you immediately had to face daunting and demanding challenges day in, day out.  I prayed that you would meet them with wisdom and determination, without losing hope, without allowing others to lose hope.  The prayers were answered — after all, they came from Jerusalem and they came to us as a great message.  It is a tribute to your leadership, to the strength of your character, to your principles, that you have never surrendered to hopelessness.  You stood and stand firmly by your vision.  Your values serve your nation.  They serve our nation as well.

So I know that you will never stop to strive for a better world, as you said today in a good Hebrew — tikkun olam.  We have a rich heritage and a great dream.  As I look back, I feel that the Israel of today has exceeded the vision we had 65 years ago.  Reality has surpassed the dreams.  The United States of America helped us to make this possible.

Still the path to tomorrow may be fraught with obstacles.  I believe that we can overcome them by our determination and by your commitment.  I’m convinced that you will do whatever is necessary to free the world’s horizons and the skies of Jerusalem from the Iranian threat.  Iran denies the Shoah and calls for a new one.  Iran is building a nuclear bomb and denies it.  The Iranian regime is the greatest danger to world peace.  History has shown time and again that peace, prosperity and stable civil society cannot flourish when threats and belligerency abound.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Iranian people are celebrating their New Year.  I wish them from the depths of my heart a happy holiday and a real freedom.

Israel will seize any opportunity for peace.  Being small, we have to maintain our qualitative edge.  I know that you responded and will respond to it.  The strength of Israel is its defense forces.  They afford us the ability to seek peace.  And what America has contributed to Israel’s security is the best guarantee to end the march of folly, the march of terror and bloodshed.

We watch with admiration the way you lead the United States of America, the way you have stayed true time and again to your bonds of friendship with us.  Your commitment and deeds speaks volumes about the principles that guides America.  To strive for freedom and democracy at home, but also all over the world, you send the boys to fight for the freedom of others.  What is uplifting is that the United States brought freedom not only to its own people, but never stops, and never will stop, to help other people to become free.

You represent democracy at its best.  You have deepened its meaning — namely that democracy is not just the right to be equal, but the equal right to be different.  Democracy is not just a free expression, but is self-expression as well.

You exemplify the spirit of democracy by striving for justice and equality and opportunity in the American society.  As the world has now become global and yet remains individual, and you offer those principles.  You have shown global responsibility and individual sensitivity.

On Monday night, Mr. President, we shall celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom, the Celebration of Spring.  The Celebration of Spring means our journey from the house of slaves to the home of the free that started more than 3,000 years ago. We remember it every year.  We are commended to feel as though each of us personally participated in that journey.  We shall not forget where we came from.  We shall remember always where we are headed, too, which is to make the Promised Land a land of promise, a land of freedom, justice and equality.

While reality calls for vigilance, Passover calls to remain believers.  Israel is an island in a stormy sea.  We have to make our island safe and we wish that the sea will become tranquil.  We converted our desert into a garden.  It was achieved by the talents of our people and the potential of science.  What we have done, Mr. President, can be done all over the Middle East, as you have rightly said tonight.  Israel is described as a start-up nation.  The Middle East can become a start-up region.

Dear President, you noted in your address today that peace is the greatest hope for the human being.  I share your vision.  Your call to reopen the peace process may pave the way for the implementation of the two-state solution agreed by all of us — as you said, a Jewish state, Israel; an Arab state, Palestine.

If I’m not wrong, next to you sits our Prime Minister who was just reelected.  He opened his address in the Knesset by reiterating his commitment to the two-state solution.  Dear friends, I have seen in my life I earned the right to believe that peace is attainable.  As you felt today, I know, this is the deep conviction of our people.  With our resolve and your support, Barack Obama, we shall win and it will happen.

Mr. President, I am privileged to bestow upon you the Medal of Distinction.  It was recommended by a committee of seven prominent Israeli citizens, headed by our former Chief of Justice Meir Shamgar, and includes our former President Yitzhak Navon.  It was my view and I was glad to accept their recommendation.  You inspired the world with your leadership.  Toda raba, Mr. President.  Toda from a grateful nation to a very great leader.

God bless America.  God bless Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Peres; Prime Minister Netanyahu and First Lady Sara; distinguished guests and friends.  This is a extraordinary honor for me and I could not be more deeply moved. And I have to say, after the incredible welcome I’ve received over the past two days and the warmth of the Israeli people, the tribute from President Peres, the honor of this medal — I mean, as you say, dayenu.  ((Applause.)

Now, I’m told that the Talmud teaches that you shouldn’t pronounce all the praises of a person in their presence.  And, Mr. President, if I praised all the chapters of your remarkable life, then we would be here all night.  (Laughter.)  So let me simply say this about our gracious host.

Mr. President, the State of Israel has been the cause of your life — through bitter wars and fragile peace, through hardship and prosperity.  You’ve built her.  You’ve cared for her.  You’ve strengthened her.  You’ve nurtured the next generation who will inherit her.

Ben Gurion.  Meir.  Begin.  Rabin.  These giants have left us.  Only you are with us still — a founding father in our midst.  And we are so grateful for your vision, your friendship, but most of all, for your example, including the example of your extraordinary vitality.  Every time I see your President I ask him who his doctor is.  (Laughter.)  We all want to know the secret.

So, with gratitude for your life and your service, and as you prepare to celebrate your 90th birthday this summer — and since I’m starting to get pretty good at Hebrew — (laughter) — let me propose a toast — even though you’ve taken away my wine
— (laughter.)  Come on.  Bring another.

How are you?

SERVER:  Here you are, sir.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A toast — ad me’ah ve’esrim.  L’chaim! (Applause.)  Mmm, that’s good wine.  (Laughter.)  Actually, we should probably get this out of the photograph.  All these people will say I’m having too much fun in Israel.  (Laughter.)

Just a few more words, Mr. President.  You mentioned that this medal is presented in recognition of progress toward the ideals of equality and opportunity and justice.  But I am mindful that I stand here tonight because of so many others, including the example and the sacrifices of the Jewish people.

In a few days, as we do at every Seder, we’ll break and hide a piece of matzoh.  It’s a great way to entertain the kids.  Malia and Sasha, even though they are getting older, they still enjoy it — and there are a lot of good places to hide it in the White House.  (Laughter.)  But on a much deeper level, it speaks to the scope of our human experience — how parts of our lives can be broken while other parts can be elusive; how we can never give up searching for the things that make us whole.  And few know this better than the Jewish people.

After slavery and decades in the wilderness and with Moses gone, the future of the Israelites was in doubt.  But with Joshua as their guide, they pushed on to victory.  After the First Temple was destroyed, it seemed Jerusalem was lost.  But with courage and resolve, the Second Temple reestablished the Jewish presence.  After centuries of persecution and pogroms, the Shoah aimed to eliminate the entire Jewish people.  But the gates of the camps flew open, and there emerged the ultimate rebuke to hate and to ignorance — survivors would live and love again.

When the moment of Israel’s independence was met by aggression on all sides, it was unclear whether this nation would survive.  But with heroism and sacrifice, the State of Israel not only endured, but thrived.  And during six days in June and Yom Kippur one October, it seemed as though all you had built might be lost.  But when the guns fell silent it was clear — “the nation of Israel lives.”

As I said in my speech earlier today, this story — from slavery to salvation, of overcoming even the most overwhelming odds — is a message that’s inspired the world.  And that includes Jewish Americans but also African Americans, who have so often had to deal with their own challenges, but with whom you have stood shoulder to shoulder.

African Americans and Jewish Americans marched together at Selma and Montgomery, with rabbis carrying the Torah as they walked.  They boarded buses for freedom rides together.  They bled together.  They gave their lives together — Jewish Americans like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner alongside  African American, James Chaney.

Because of their sacrifice, because of the struggle of generations in both our countries, we can come together tonight, in freedom and in security.  So if I can paraphrase the Psalm — they turned our mourning into dancing; they changed our sack cloths into robes of joy.

And this evening, I’d like to close with the words of two leaders who brought us some of this joy.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in Poland and lost his mother and sisters to the Nazis.  He came to America.  He raised his voice for social justice.  He marched with Martin Luther King.  And he spoke of the State of Israel in words that could well describe the struggle for equality in America.  “Our very existence is a witness that man must live toward redemption,” he said, and “that history is not always made by man alone.”

Rabbi Joachim Prinz was born in Germany, expelled by the Nazis and found refuge in America, and he built support for the new State of Israel.  And on that August day in 1963, he joined Dr. King at the March on Washington.  And this is what Rabbi Prinz said to the crowd:

“In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor.  Neighbor is not a geographic concept.  It is a moral concept.  It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.”

President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, friends — our very existence, our presence here tonight, is a testament that all things are possible, even those things that, in moments of darkness and doubt, may seem elusive.  The stories of our peoples teach us to never stop searching for the things — the justice and the peace — that make us whole.  And so we go forward together, with confidence, we’ll know that while our countries may be separated by a great ocean, in the realm of the spirit we will always be neighbors and friends.

I very humbly accept this award, understanding that I’m accepting it on behalf of the American people, who are joined together with you.

May God bless you and may He watch over our two great nations.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:44 P.M. IST

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama in Israel Speech pleads for renewed Mideast peace talks

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama pleads for renewed Mideast peace talks

Source: Washington Post, 3-21-13

President Obama made an impassioned appeal Thursday for renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, urging each side to compromise on key issues so as to sideline extremists who “thrive on conflict.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Lays Out Case for Israel to Revive Peace Talks in Israel Speech

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Lays Out Case for Israel to Revive Peace Talks

Source: NYT, 3-21-13

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Laying out his case for a future Israel at peace with the Palestinians, President Obama delivered an enthusiastically welcomed speech on Thursday before an audience of youthful Israelis in Jerusalem, assuring them of America’s strong support but asking them to empathize with their Israeli-occupied neighbors and “look at the world through their eyes.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the People of Israel at the Jerusalem International Convention Center

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks of President Barack Obama To the People of Israel

Source: WH, 3-21-13 

http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.511136.1363887473!/image/3650658493.jpg

Photo Source: Haaretz

Jerusalem International Convention Center

Jerusalem

4:37 P.M. IST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. Well, it is a great honor to be with you here in Jerusalem, and I’m so grateful for the welcome that I’ve received from the people of Israel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  I bring with me the support of the American people — (applause) — and the friendship that binds us together.  (Applause.)

Over the last two days, I’ve reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I’ve borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I’ve seen Israel’s shining future in your scientists and your entrepreneurs.  This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation.  Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated at the same time.  (Applause.)

But what I’ve most looked forward to is the ability to speak directly to you, the Israeli people — especially so many young people who are here today — (applause) — to talk about the history that brought us here today, and the future that you will make in the years to come.

Now, I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized.  (Laughter.)  But I want to clear something up just so you know — any drama between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet.  (Applause.)  That’s the only thing that was going on.  We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material.  (Laughter.)

I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday — the celebration of Passover.  And that is where I would like to begin today.

Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods.  After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud that I’ve now brought this tradition into the White House.  (Applause.)  I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.

It’s a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah.  It’s a story about finding freedom in your own land.  And for the Jewish people, this story is central to who you’ve become.  But it’s also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering, but also all of its salvation.

It’s a part of the three great religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred.  And it’s a story that’s inspired communities across the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.

In the United States — a nation made up of people who crossed oceans to start anew — we’re naturally drawn to the idea of finding freedom in our land.  To African Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity — a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement into today.

For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day was on the horizon.  For me, personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, the story spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.  (Applause.)

Of course, even as we draw strength from the story of God’s will and His gift of freedom expressed on Passover, we also know that here on Earth we must bear our responsibilities in an imperfect world.  That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle, just like previous generations.  It means us working through generation after generation on behalf of that ideal of freedom.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed, “I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”  (Applause.)  So just as Joshua carried on after Moses, the work goes on for all of you, the Joshua Generation, for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.

For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations.  It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice and pogroms and even genocide.  Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home.  And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea — to be a free people in your homeland.  That’s why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea — the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.  (Applause.)

Over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.  And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora — welcoming Jews from Europe, from the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia, from North Africa.  (Applause.)

Israel has built a prosperous nation — through kibbutzeem that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the middle class, innovators who reached new frontiers, from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space.  Israel has established a thriving democracy, with a spirited civil society and proud political parties, and a tireless free press, and a lively public debate -– “lively” may even be an understatement.  (Applause.)

And Israel has achieved all this even as it’s overcome relentless threats to its security — through the courage of the Israel Defense Forces, and the citizenry that is so resilient in the face of terror.

This is the story of Israel.  This is the work that has brought the dreams of so many generations to life.  And every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable bonds of friendship with my country, the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel.  (Applause.)  As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, he said, “I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”  And since then, we’ve built a friendship that advances our shared interests.

Together, we share a commitment to security for our citizens and the stability of the Middle East and North Africa.  Together, we share a focus on advancing economic growth around the globe, and strengthening the middle class within our own countries.  Together, we share a stake in the success of democracy.

But the source of our friendship extends beyond mere interests, just as it has transcended political parties and individual leaders.  America is a nation of immigrants.  America is strengthened by diversity.  America is enriched by faith.  We are governed not simply by men and women, but by laws.  We’re fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation, and we are defined by a democratic discourse that allows each generation to reimagine and renew our union once more.  So in Israel, we see values that we share, even as we recognize what makes us different.  That is an essential part of our bond.

Now, I stand here today mindful that for both our nations, these are some complicated times.  We have difficult issues to work through within our own countries, and we face dangers and upheaval around the world.  And when I look at young people within the United States, I think about the choices that they must make in their lives to define who we’ll be as a nation in this 21st century, particularly as we emerge from two wars and the worst recession since the Great Depression.  But part of the reason I like talking to young people is because no matter how great the challenges are, their idealism, their energy, their ambition always gives me hope.  (Applause.)

And I see the same spirit in the young people here today.  (Applause.)  I believe that you will shape our future.  And given the ties between our countries, I believe your future is bound to ours.  (Audience interruption.)

No, no — this is part of the lively debate that we talked about.  (Applause.)  This is good.  You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home.  (Laughter.)  I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.  (Laughter.)

I’d like to focus on how we — and when I say “we,” in particular young people — can work together to make progress in three areas that will define our times — security, peace and prosperity.  (Applause.)

Let me begin with security.  I’m proud that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger.  Never.  (Applause.)  More exercises between our militaries; more exchanges among our political and military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge.  These are the facts.  These aren’t my opinions, these are facts.  But, to me, this is not simply measured on a balance sheet.  I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal.

Here’s what I think about when I consider these issues.  When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot — (applause) — children the same age as my own daughters who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.  (Applause.)

That reality is why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives — because those children deserve to sleep better at night.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself.  (Applause.)  And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. (Applause.)

When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families.  That’s why every country that values justice should call Hizbollah what it truly is — a terrorist organization.  (Applause.)  Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities, and supports the massacre of men and women and children in Syria right now.  (Applause.)

The fact that Hizbollah’s ally — the Assad regime — has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency.  We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. I’ve made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders:  We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists.  The world is watching; we will hold you accountable. (Applause.)

The Syrian people have the right to be freed from the grip of a dictator who would rather kill his own people than relinquish power.  (Applause.)  Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin.  Because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsible to its people — one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them.

These are the things I think about when I think about Israel’s security.  When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction.  It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat.  But this is not simply a challenge for Israel — it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States.  (Applause.)  A nuclear-armed Iran would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism.  It would undermine the non-proliferation regime.  It would spark an arms race in a volatile region.  And it would embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations.

That’s why America has built a coalition to increase the cost to Iran of failing to meet their obligations.  The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing.  It is isolated.  Its economy is in dire straits.  Its leadership is divided.  And its position — in the region, and the world — has only grown weaker.  (Applause.)

I do believe that all of us have an interest in resolving this issue peacefully.  (Applause.)  Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  Peace is far more preferable to war.  And the inevitable costs, the unintended consequences that would come with war means that we have to do everything we can to try to resolve this diplomatically.  Because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution.  That’s what America will do, with clear eyes — working with a world that’s united, and with the sense of urgency that’s required.

But Iran must know this time is not unlimited.  And I’ve made the position of the United States of America clear:  Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.  This is not a danger that can be contained, and as President, I’ve said all options are on the table for achieving our objectives.  America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  (Applause.)

For young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day.  You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist.  Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all that they had to make a place for themselves in this world.  Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state.  Your children grow up knowing that people they’ve never met may hate them because of who they are, in a region that is full of turmoil and changing underneath your feet.

So that’s what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges –- that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who still reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it.  And that’s why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important.  It cannot be taken for granted.

But make no mistake — those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  (Applause.)  And today, I want to tell you — particularly the young people — so that there’s no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America — Atem lo levad. You are not alone.  (Applause.)

The question is what kind of future Israel will look forward to.  Israel is not going anywhere — but especially for the young people in this audience, the question is what does its future hold?  And that brings me to the subject of peace.  (Applause.)

I know Israel has taken risks for peace.  Brave leaders — Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin — reached treaties with two of your neighbors.  You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis.  You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets.  Across the region, you’ve extended a hand of friendship and all too often you’ve been confronted with rejection and, in some cases, the ugly reality of anti-Semitism. So I believe that the Israeli people do want peace, and I also understand why too many Israelis — maybe an increasing number, maybe a lot of young people here today — are skeptical that it can be achieved.

But today, Israel is at a crossroads.  It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers.  There’s so many other pressing issues that demand your attention.  And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future.  (Applause.)  I recognize that.

I also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace.  I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, have a different vision for Israel’s future.  And that’s part of a democracy.  That’s part of the discourse between our two countries.  I recognize that.  But I also believe it’s important to be open and honest, especially with your friends.  I also believe that.  (Applause.)

Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside — just express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do — that would be the easiest political path. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points.

First, peace is necessary.  (Applause.)  I believe that.  I believe that peace is the only path to true security.  (Applause.)  You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future.  Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.  (Applause.)  That is true.

There are other factors involved.  Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation.  And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war.  Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.  (Applause.)

And this truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab world.  I understand that with the uncertainty in the region — people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rise of non-secular parties in politics — it’s tempting to turn inward, because the situation outside of Israel seems so chaotic. But this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve and commitment for peace.  (Applause.) Because as more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace simply with a handful of autocratic leaders, those days are over.  Peace will have to be made among peoples, not just governments.  (Applause.)

No one — no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions.  No single step is going to erase years of history and propaganda.  But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division.  It would make a difference.  (Applause.)

So peace is necessary.  But peace is also just.  Peace is also just.  There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities.  That is all true.  And that’s why security must be at the center of any agreement.  And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations — which is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.  It has to be done by the parties.  (Applause.)  But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized.  (Applause.)

Put yourself in their shoes.  Look at the world through their eyes.  It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own.  (Applause.)  Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day.  It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished.  (Applause.)  It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes.  (Applause.)  Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.  (Applause.)  Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.  (Applause.)

I’m going off script here for a second, but before I came here, I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of 15 to 22.  And talking to them, they weren’t that different from my daughters.  They weren’t that different from your daughters or sons.  I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those kids, they’d say, I want these kids to succeed; I want them to prosper.  (Applause.)  I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do.  I believe that’s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them.  (Applause.)  I believe that.

Now, only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have.  But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians — you will define the future of Israel as well.  (Applause.)

As Ariel Sharon said — I’m quoting him — “It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel.  If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.”  (Applause.)  Or, from a different perspective, I think of what the novelist David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace — “A peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.”  (Applause.)

Now, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction.  (Applause.)  But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.  (Applause.)  I believe that.  And they have a track record to prove it.  Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few could have imagined just a few years ago.  So many Palestinians — including young people — have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations.

There is an opportunity there, there’s a window — which brings me to my third point:  Peace is possible.  It is possible. (Applause.)  I’m not saying it’s guaranteed.  I can’t even say that it is more likely than not.  But it is possible.  I know it doesn’t seem that way.  There are always going to be reasons to avoid risk.  There are costs for failure.  There will always be extremists who provide an excuse not to act.

I know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks, and daily controversies, and just the grinding status quo.  And I’m sure there’s a temptation just to say, “Ah, enough.  Let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what I can control.”  But it’s possible.

Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead — two states for two peoples.  Two states for two peoples.  (Applause.)

There will be differences about how to get there.  There are going to be hard choices along the way.  Arab states must adapt to a world that has changed.  The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity, or government corruption or mismanagement — those days need to be over.  (Applause.)  Now is the time for the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.  (Applause.)

Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security.  (Applause.)  Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn.  (Applause.)

I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for these talks.  But for the moment, put aside the plans and the process.  I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people.

Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people — politically, religiously, they must seem a world away.  But the things they want, they’re not so different from what the young people here want.  They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married; to raise a family. The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this morning.  The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.

That’s where peace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.  Not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections — that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem.  (Applause.)

And let me say this as a politician — I can promise you this, political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks.  You must create the change that you want to see.  (Applause.)  Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.

I know this is possible.  Look to the bridges being built in business and civil society by some of you here today.  Look at the young people who’ve not yet learned a reason to mistrust, or those young people who’ve learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents, because they simply recognize that we hold more hopes in common than fears that drive us apart.  Your voices must be louder than those who would drown out hope.  Your hopes must light the way forward.

Look to a future in which Jews and Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land.  (Applause.)  Believe in that.  And most of all, look to the future that you want for your own children — a future in which a Jewish, democratic, vibrant state is protected and accepted for this time and for all time.  (Applause.)

There will be many who say this change is not possible, but remember this — Israel is the most powerful country in this region.  Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world.  (Applause.)  Israel is not going anywhere. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but — this is in your nature — Israel also has the courage to see the world as it should be.  (Applause.)

Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”  Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change.  That’s a lesson that the world has learned from the Jewish people.

And that brings me to the final area that I’ll focus on: prosperity, and Israel’s broader role in the world.  I know that all the talk about security and peace can sometimes seem to dominate the headlines, but that’s not where people live.  And every day, even amidst the threats that you face, Israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities that you’re creating.

Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy.

Israelis understand the value of education and have produced 10 Nobel laureates.  (Applause.)  Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors.  And that spirit has led to economic growth and human progress — solar power and electric cars, bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives, stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease, cell phones and computer technology that changed the way people around the world live.

So if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv, home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers.  (Applause.)  Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.  (Laughter and applause.)

That innovation is just as important to the relationship between the United States and Israel as our security cooperation. Our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with Israel, nearly three decades ago.  (Applause.)  Today the trade between our two countries is at $40 billion every year.  (Applause.)  More importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments; it’s pushing new frontiers of science and exploration.

That’s the kind of relationship that Israel should have — and could have — with every country in the world.  Already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region.  There’s a program here in Jerusalem that brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business.  An Israeli and Palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance Palestinian start-ups.  Over 100 high-tech companies have found a home on the West Bank — which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the Palestinian people.

One of the great ironies of what’s happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for — education, entrepreneurship, the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, the ability to connect to the global economy — those are things that can be found here in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine for opportunity.  (Applause.)

Israel is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy.  And I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, enhanced with lasting peace.  (Applause.)

Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world’s history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, Israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago.  Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history — at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past; at the grave of Rabin, who understood that Israel’s victories in war had to be followed by the battles for peace; at Yad Vashem, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the Jewish people and all of humanity if we ever fail to be vigilant.

We bear all that history on our shoulders.  We carry all that history in our hearts.  Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation, you — the young people of Israel

— must now claim its future.  It falls to you to write the next chapter in the great story of this great nation.

And as the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend — (applause) — I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead.  And as a man who’s been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience — tikkun olam — (applause) — I am hopeful that we can draw upon what’s best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world.  (Applause.)  That’s your job.  That’s my job.  That’s the task of all of us.

May God bless you.  May God bless Israel.  May God bless the United States of America.  Toda raba.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END

5:27 P.M. IST

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Faces Hecklers, Gets Standing Ovation for Israel Speech in Jerusalem

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Faces Hecklers, Gets Standing Ovation in Jerusalem

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-21-13

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking to students in Jerusalem, President Obama reaffirmed the friendship between the United States and Israel. During his speech, which highlighted the “vibrant democracy” and history of Israel, the president jokes about being interrupted by hecklers….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: Gaza rockets hit southern Israel town cited by President Barack Obama

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Gaza rockets hit southern Israel town cited by Obama

Source: Reuters, 3-21-13

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed on Thursday in a southern Israeli border town that U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned in a speech on his arrival in Israel a day earlier….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 20, 2013: In Israel, President Barack Obama Vows to Prevent Nuclear Iran

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Israel, Obama Vows to Prevent Nuclear Iran

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-20-13

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Seeking to reassure the United States’ primary ally in the Middle East, President Obama Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his administration remains committed to doing “what is necessary” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters at a joint press conference after a series of closed-door meetings with Israeli leaders….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama & Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel’s Remarks in Joint Press Conference Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 3-20-13

President Obama Holds a Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

President Obama Holds a Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

Prime Minister’s Residence, Jerusalem

8:30 P.M. IDT

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, Barack, it’s a great pleasure for me to host you here in Jerusalem. You’ve graciously hosted me many times in Washington, so I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to reciprocate. I hope that the goodwill and warmth of the people of Israel has already made you feel at home.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Very much so.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We had an opportunity today to begin discussing the wide range of issues that are critical to both our countries. And foremost among these is Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. Mr. President, you have made it clear that you are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I appreciate your forthright position on this point. I also appreciate that you have noted — that you have acted to thwart the threat both through determined diplomacy and strong sanctions that are getting stronger yet.

Notwithstanding our joint efforts and your great success in mobilizing the international community, diplomacy and sanctions so far have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program. And as you know, my view is that in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action.

In this regard, Mr. President, I want to thank you once again for always making clear that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. I deeply appreciate those words because they speak to the great transformation that has occurred in the life of the Jewish people with the rebirth of the Jewish state. The Jewish people only two generations ago were once a powerless people, defenseless against those who sought our destruction. Today we have both the right and the capability to defend ourselves.

And you said earlier today, the essence of the State of Israel, the essence of the rebirth of the Jewish state is we’ve fulfilled the age-old dream of the Jewish people to be masters of our fate in our own state. I think that was a wonderful line that I will cherish because it really gets down to the essence of what this state is about. That is why I know that you appreciate that Israel can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends. And Israel has no better friend than the United States of America. So I look forward to continuing to work with you to address what is an existential threat to Israel and a grave threat to the peace and security of the world.

Mr. President, we discussed today the situation in Syria. We share the goal of seeing a stable and peaceful Syria emerge from the carnage that we have witnessed over the last two years. That carnage has already resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 people and the suffering of millions. We also share a determination to prevent the deadly arsenal of weapons within Syria from falling into the hands of terrorist hands. And I have no doubt that the best way to do that is to work closely with the United States and other countries in the region to address this challenge. And that is what we intend to do.

Finally, Mr. President, your visit gave us an opportunity to try to find a way to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. My new government was sworn in two days ago. I know there have been questions regarding what the policy of the new government will be towards peace with the Palestinians. So let me be clear. Israel remains fully committed to peace and to the solution of two states for two peoples. We extend our hand in peace and in friendship to the Palestinian people.

I hope that your visit, along with the visit of Secretary of State Kerry, will help us turn a page in our relations with the Palestinians. Let us sit down at the negotiating table. Let us put aside all preconditions. Let us work together to achieve the historic compromise that will end our conflict once and for all.

Let me conclude, Mr. President, on a personal note. I know how valuable the time and the energy is of the American President, of yourself. This is the 10th time that we have met since you became President and since I became Prime Minister. You’ve chosen Israel as your first venue in your visit, your foreign visit in your second term. I want to thank you for the investment you have made in our relationship and in strengthening the friendship and alliance between our two countries. It is deeply, deeply appreciated.

You’ve come here on the eve of Passover. I’ve always considered it as our most cherished holiday. It celebrates the Jewish people’s passage from slavery to freedom. Through the ages it has also inspired people struggling for freedom, including the Founding Fathers of the United States. So it’s a profound honor to host you, the leader of the free world, at this historic time in our ancient capital.

Mr. President, welcome to Israel. Welcome to Jerusalem. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.

Well, thank you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, for your kind words and for your wonderful welcome here today. And I want to express a special thanks to Sara as well as your two sons for their warmth and hospitality. It was wonderful to see them. They are — I did inform the Prime Minister that they are very good-looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother. (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, I can say the same of your daughters. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is true. Our goal is to improve our gene pool by marrying women who are better than we are.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to begin by congratulating you on the formation of your new government. In the United States, we work hard to find agreement between our two major parties. Here in Israel, you have to find consensus among many more. And few legislatures can compete with the intensity of the Knesset. But all of this reflects the thriving nature of Israel’s democracy.

As Bibi mentioned, this is our 10th meeting. We’ve spent more time together, working together, than I have with any leader. And this speaks to the closeness of our two nations, the interests and the values that we share, and the depth and breadth of the ties between our two peoples.

As leaders, our most solemn responsibility is the security of our people — that’s job number one. My job as President of the United States, first and foremost, is to keep the American people safe. Bibi, as Prime Minister, your first task is to keep the people of Israel safe. And Israel’s security needs are truly unique, as I’ve seen myself. In past trips I visited villages near the Blue Line. I’ve walked through Israeli homes devastated by Hezbollah rockets. I’ve stood in Sderot, and met with children who simply want to grow up free from fear. And flying in today, I saw again how Israel’s security can be measured in mere miles and minutes.

As President, I’ve, therefore, made it clear America’s commitment to the security of the State of Israel is a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable.

Today, our military and intelligence personnel cooperate more closely than ever before. We conduct more joint exercises and training than ever before. We’re providing more security assistance and advanced technology to Israel than ever before. And that includes more support for the missile defenses like Iron Dome, which I saw today and which has saved so many Israeli lives.

In short — and I don’t think this is just my opinion, I think, Bibi, you would share this — America’s support for Israel’s security is unprecedented, and the alliance between our nations has never been stronger.

That’s the sturdy foundation we built on today as we addressed a range of shared challenges. As part of our long-term commitment to Israel’s security, the Prime Minister and I agreed to begin discussions on extending military assistance to Israel. Our current agreement lasts through 2017, and we’ve directed our teams to start working on extending it for the years beyond.

I’m also pleased to announce that we will take steps to ensure that there’s no interruption of funding for Iron Dome. As a result of decisions that I made last year, Israel will receive approximately $200 million this fiscal year and we will continue to work with Congress on future funding of Iron Dome. These are further reminders that we will help to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

We also discussed the way forward to a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. And I very much welcomed Bibi’s words before I spoke. I’ll be meeting with President Abbas tomorrow, and I will have more to say on this topic in the speech that I deliver to the Israeli people tomorrow. But for now, let me just reiterate that a central element of a lasting peace must be a strong and secure Jewish state, where Israel’s security concerns are met, alongside a sovereign and independent Palestinian state.

In this regard, I’d note that last year was a milestone — the first year in four decades when not a single Israeli citizen lost their life because of terrorism emanating from the West Bank. It’s a reminder that Israel has a profound interest in a strong and effective Palestinian Authority. And as the Prime Minister’s new government begins its work, we’ll continue to look for steps that both Israelis and Palestinians can take to build trust and confidence upon which lasting peace will depend.

We also reaffirmed the importance of ensuring Israel’s security given the changes and uncertainty in the region. As the United States supports the Egyptian people in their historic transition to democracy, we continue to underscore the necessity of Egypt contributing to regional security, preventing Hamas from rearming and upholding its peace treaty with Israel.

With respect to Syria, the United States continues to work with allies and friends and the Syrian opposition to hasten the end of Assad’s rule, to stop the violence against the Syrian people, and begin a transition toward a new government that respects the rights of all its people.

Assad has lost his legitimacy to lead by attacking the Syrian people with almost every conventional weapon in his arsenal, including Scud missiles. And we have been clear that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would be a serious and tragic mistake. We also share Israel’s grave concern about the transfer of chemical or other weapon systems to terrorists — such as Hezbollah — that might be used against Israel. The Assad regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists.

And finally, we continued our close consultation on Iran. We agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world, and potentially an existential threat to Israel. And we agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there’s still time to do so. Iran’s leaders must understand, however, that they have to meet their international obligations. And, meanwhile, the international community will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian government. The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps. And I will repeat: All options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world’s worst weapons.

Meeting none of these challenges will be easy. It will demand the same courage and resolve as those who have preceded us.

And on Friday, I’ll be honored to visit Mount Herzl and pay tribute to the leaders and soldiers who have laid down their lives for Israel. One of them was Yoni Netanyahu. And in one of his letters home, he wrote to his family, “Don’t forget — strength, justice, and staunch resolution are on our side, and that is a great deal.”

Mr. Prime Minister, like families across Israel, you and your family have served and sacrificed to defend your country and to pass it, safe and strong, to your children just as it was passed on to you. Standing here today, I can say with confidence that Israel’s security is guaranteed because it has a great deal on its side, including the unwavering support of the United States of America. (Applause.)

Q  Mr. President, may I ask you about Syria, a practical question and a moral one? Morally, how is it possible that for the last two years, tens of thousands of innocent civilians are being massacred and no one — the world, the United States and you — are doing anything to stop it immediately? On a practical level, you have said today and also in the past that the use of chemical weapons would be a crossing of a red line. It seems like this line was crossed yesterday. What specifically do you intend to do about it?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’ll answer the question in reverse order, if you don’t mind. I’ll talk about the chemical weapons first and then, the larger question.

With respect to chemical weapons, we intend to investigate thoroughly exactly what happened. Obviously, in Syria right now you’ve got a war zone. You have information that’s filtered out, but we have to make sure that we know exactly what happened — what was the nature of the incident, what can we document, what can we prove. So I’ve instructed my teams to work closely with all of the countries in the region and international organizations and institutions to find out precisely whether or not this red line was crossed.

I will note, without at this point having all the facts before me, that we know the Syrian government has the capacity to carry out chemical weapon attacks. We know that there are those in the Syrian government who have expressed a willingness to use chemical weapons if necessary to protect themselves. I am deeply skeptical of any claim that, in fact, it was the opposition that used chemical weapons. Everybody who knows the facts of the chemical weapon stockpiles inside Syria as well as the Syrian government’s capabilities I think would question those claims. But I know that they’re floating out there right now.

The broader point is, is that once we establish the facts I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer. And I won’t make an announcement today about next steps because I think we have to gather the facts. But I do think that when you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation and mass casualties and you let that genie out of the bottle, then you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we’ve already seen in Syria. And the international community has to act on that additional information.

But as is always the case when it comes to issues of war and peace, I think having the facts before you act is very important.

More broadly, as I said in my opening statement, I believe that the Assad regime has lost all credibility and legitimacy. I think Assad must go — and I believe he will go. It is incorrect for you to say that we have done nothing. We have helped to mobilize the isolation of the Assad regime internationally. We have supported and recognized the opposition. We have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support for humanitarian aid. We have worked diligently with other countries in the region to provide additional tools to move towards a political transition within Syria.

If your suggestion is, is that I have not acted unilaterally militarily inside of Syria, well, the response has been — or my response would be that, to the extent possible, I want to make sure that we’re working as an international community to deal with this problem, because I think it’s a world problem, not simply a United States problem, or an Israel problem, or a Turkish problem. It’s a world problem when tens of thousands of people are being slaughtered, including innocent women and children.

And so we will continue to work in an international framework to try to bring about the kind of change that’s necessary in Syria. Secretary Kerry has been working nonstop since he came into his current position to try to help mobilize and organize our overall efforts, and we will continue to push every lever that we have to try to bring about a resolution inside of Syria that respects the rights and the safety and security of all people, regardless of whatever sectarian lines currently divide Syria.

Last point I’ll make, which is probably obvious, is this is not easy. When you start seeing a civil war that has sectarian elements to it, and you’ve got a repressive government that is intent on maintaining power, and you have mistrust that has broken out along sectarian lines, and you have an opposition that has not had the opportunity or time to organize itself both politically as well as militarily, then you end up seeing some of the devastation that you’ve been seeing. And we’re going to do everything we can to continue to prevent it. And I know that the vast majority of our international partners feel the same way.

Q. Yes, thank you. There was some friendly banter between you two gentlemen on the tarmac today about red lines, and I’m wondering how much of a serious matter that actually became in your talks and will be in your talks to come tonight. President Obama has said it will take Iran at least a year to build a bomb. That’s months longer than the Prime Minister believes.

Mr. President, are you asking the Prime Minister to be more patient, to hold off for at least a year on any kind of military action against Iran?

Mr. Prime Minister, has President Obama’s words — have they convinced you that he is putting forth the credible military threat that you have repeatedly asked for, or there’s a need to go further? Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bibi, why don’t you go — take a first swing at this.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, there are so many strips of different colors on the tarmac that we — (laughter) — we did have a joke about that. But obviously this matter is no joke. It relates to our very existence and to something also that the President correctly identified as a grave strategic threat to the United States and to the peace and security of the world.

I’m absolutely convinced that the President is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And I appreciate that. And I also appreciate something that he said, which I mentioned in my opening remarks, that the Jewish people have come back to their own country to be the masters of their own fate. And I appreciate the fact that the President has reaffirmed — more than any other President — Israel’s right and duty to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. We just heard those important words now, and I think that sums up our — I would say — our common view.

Iran is a grave threat to Israel, a grave threat to the world — a nuclear Iran. The United States is committed to deal with it. Israel is committed to deal with it. We have different vulnerabilities, obviously, and different capabilities. We take that into account. But what we do maintain — and the President I think is the first to do so — is that Israel has a right to independently defend itself against any threat, including the Iranian threat.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think the only thing I would add is that our intelligence cooperation on this issue, the consultation between our militaries, our intelligence, is unprecedented, and there is not a lot of light, a lot of daylight between our countries’ assessments in terms of where Iran is right now.

I think that what Bibi alluded to, which is absolutely correct, is each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action, and Israel is differently situated than the United States. And I would not expect that the Prime Minister would make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any other country — any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security.

I have shared with Bibi, as I’ve said to the entire world, as I’ve said to the Iranian people and Iranian leaders, that I think there is time to resolve this issue diplomatically. The question is, will Iranian leadership seize that opportunity? Will they walk through that door?

And it would be in everybody’s interests — not just Israel’s interests, not just the United States’ interests — it would be in the interest of the Iranian people if this gets resolved diplomatically. Because the truth of the matter is, is that the most permanent solution to the Iranian situation is ultimately going to be their decision that it is not worth it for them to pursue nuclear weapons. That will be the lasting change. If we can get that, that’s good for everybody, including Iran, because it would allow them to break out of the isolation that has hampered their society and their economic development for many years.

But I don’t know whether they’re going to be willing to take that step. And obviously, their past behavior indicates that, in the words of — or a play on words on what Ronald Reagan said — we can’t even trust yet, much less verify. But we do have to test the proposition that this can be resolved diplomatically. And if it can’t, then I’ve repeated to Bibi what I’ve said publicly, and that is, is that we will leave all options on the table in resolving it.

Q  Mr. Prime Minister, do you agree or disagree with the President’s one-year assessment?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We have another question.

Q  Welcome, Mr. President. On your way back to Washington on Friday, what will you consider a successful visit?  Convincing the Israeli leaders that they can rely on you on the Iranian issue, especially that they learned that there are differences between Israel and the United States concerning the enrichment of the Iranian — or convincing both sides — Israelis and the Palestinians — to revive the floundering negotiation, reviving the peace process, the floundering peace process?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my main goal on this trip has been to have an opportunity to speak directly to the Israeli people at a time when obviously what was already a pretty tough neighborhood has gotten tougher, and let them know that they’ve got a friend in the United States, that we have your back; that we consider Israel’s security of extraordinary importance to us, not just because of the bonds between our peoples but also because of our own national security interest.

In that context, what I have also sought to achieve here is further consultations, building on what we’ve already discussed — as Bibi has just formed a new government, as I am entering my second term — that we continue to have close consultation around some of these shared interests that we’ve already discussed, Iran being obviously a prominent shared concern. I want to make sure that the Israeli people and the Israeli government consistently understand my thinking and how I’m approaching this problem. And I want to understand how the Israeli government and the Prime Minister is approaching this problem to make sure that there are no misunderstandings there.

With respect to the peace process, as I said, I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow. But I think you are absolutely right that over the last year, year and a half, two years, two and a half years, we haven’t gone forward. We haven’t seen the kind of progress that we would like to see.

There’s some elements of good news. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that even with all that’s been happening in the region, the Palestinian Authority has worked effectively in cooperation with the international community — in part because of some of the training that we, the United States, provided — to do its part in maintaining security in the West Bank. We have seen some progress when it comes to economic development and opportunity for the Palestinian people.

But the truth of the matter is trying to bring this to some sort of clear settlement, a solution that would allow Israelis to feel as if they’ve broken out of the current isolation that they’re in, in this region, that would allow the incredible economic growth that’s taking place inside this country to be a model for trade and commerce and development throughout the region at a time when all these other countries need technology and commerce and jobs for their young people, for Palestinians to feel a sense that they, too, are masters of their own fate, for Israel to feel that the possibilities of rockets raining down on their families has diminished — that kind of solution we have not yet seen.

And so what I want to do is listen, hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu — tomorrow, I’ll have a chance to hear from Abu Mazen — to get a sense from them, how do they see this process moving forward. What are the possibilities and what are the constraints, and how can the United States be helpful? And I purposely did not want to come here and make some big announcement that might not match up with what the realities and possibilities on the ground are. I wanted to spend some time listening before I talked — which my mother always taught me was a good idea.

And so, hopefully — I’ll consider it a success if when I go back on Friday, I’m able to say to myself I have a better understanding of what the constraints are, what the interests of the various parties are, and how the United States can play a constructive role in bringing about a lasting peace and two states living side by side in peace and security.

Q  Thank you, Mr. President; Mr. Prime Minister.

Mr. President, I’m going to follow up a little bit on the peace process. You began your term, your first term, big fanfare — Cairo speech to talk to the Muslim world, the decision to have a Middle East envoy early. You said you weren’t going to let this slip to your second term. We’re in your second term with the Middle East peace process. What went wrong? Why are we further away from a two-state solution? I know you said you want to talk more about this tomorrow, but I am curious. What do you believe went wrong? Did you push Israel too hard? What do you wish you would have done differently?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to help out my colleague over here on the follow-up that he had, which had to do with do you accept the President’s understanding that Iran is a year away when it comes to nuclear weapons? And another question I had for you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chuck, how many have you got? Do you guys do this in the Israeli press — you say you get one question and then you add like five?

Q  Well, I’m helping him. I’m helping him with his —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You see how the young lady from Channel One, she had one question. She was very well-behaved, Chuck.

Q  I had that one for you and — (laughter) —

PRIME NETANYAHU: These are commuted questions they have. (Laughter.)

Q  Apparently — I thought I had four questions.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Reiterations.

Q  Passover starts in a couple of days. (Laughter.) I get four questions, right?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Look, this is not a Kosher question, but don’t hog it. (Laughter.)

Q  I guess my question to you was going to be, why do you believe the Israeli people have not embraced President Obama the same way they embraced our last two U.S. Presidents? Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So you had to get a polling question in there right at the end? (Laughter.) Chuck, I mean, you’re just incorrigible. (Laughter.)

Well, look, the opening premise of your question was that having failed to achieve peace in the Middle East in my first term that I must have screwed up somehow. And I will tell you I hope I’m a better President now than when I first came into office, but my commitment was not to achieve a peace deal in my first year, or in my second year or my third year. That would have been nice. What I said was I was not going to wait to start on the issue until my second term, because I thought it was too important. And that’s exactly what I did.

I’m absolutely sure that there are a host of things that I could have done that would have been more deft and would have created better optics. But ultimately, this is a really hard problem. It’s been lingering for over six decades. And the parties involved have some profound interests that you can’t spin, you can’t smooth over. And it is a hard slog to work through all of these issues.

I will add that both parties also have politics, just like we do back home. There are a whole bunch of things that I’d like to do back in the United States that I didn’t get done in my first term. And I’m sure I could have been more deft there as well. But some of it’s just because it’s hard, and people disagree, and it takes I think a confluence of both good diplomatic work, but also timing, serendipity, things falling into place at the right time, the right players feeling that this is the moment to seize it.

And my goal here is just to make sure that the United State is a positive force in trying to create those opportunities as frequently as possible, and to be as clear as possible as to why we think that this is an important priority — not only because of some Pollyanna-ish views about can’t we all get along and hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” but because I actually believe that Israel’s security will be enhanced with a resolution to this issue. I believe that Palestinians will prosper and can channel their extraordinary energies and entrepreneurship in more positive ways with a resolution to this issue. The entire region I think will be healthier with a resolution to this issue.

So I’m going to keep on making that argument. And I will admit that, frankly, sometimes it would be easier not to make the argument and to avoid the question, precisely because it’s hard. That’s not the approach that I’ve tried to take.

And there have probably been times where, when I’ve made statements about what I think needs to happen, the way it gets filtered through our press — it may be interpreted in ways that get Israelis nervous, just like there are folks back home who sometimes get nervous about areas where they aren’t sure exactly where I stand on things. That’s why I always like the opportunity to talk directly to you guys. Hopefully, you’ll show the live film, as opposed to the edited version.

With that, I think you’ve got four questions to answer, Bibi. (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I think that there’s a misunderstanding about time. If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon — that is, to actually manufacture the weapon — then it probably — then it would take them about a year. I think that’s correct. They could defer that a long time but still get through the enrichment process — that is, to make a weapon you need two things; you need enriched uranium of a critical amount and then you need a weapon. You can’t have the weapon without the enriched uranium, but you can have the enriched uranium without the weapon.

Iran right now is enriching uranium. It’s pursuing it. It hasn’t yet reached the red line that I had described in my speech at the U.N. — they’re getting closer, though.

And the question of manufacturing the weapon is a different thing. The President said correctly that we have — on these issues that are a little arcane, they sound a little detailed to you — but on these matters we share information and we have a common assessment. We have a common assessment.

In any case, Iran gets to an immunity zone when they get through the enrichment process, in our view — in our view — and whatever time is left, there’s not a lot of time. And every day that passes diminishes it. But we do have a common assessment. On the schedules, on intelligence, we share that intelligence and we don’t have any argument about it. I think it’s important to state that clearly.

I think that people should get to know President Obama the way I’ve gotten to know. And I think you’ve just heard something that is very meaningful. It may have escaped you, but it hasn’t escaped me. And that is the President announced that in addition to all the aid that his administration has provided — including Iron Dome, including defense funding for Israel during very difficult times — he has announced that we are going to begin talks on another 10-year process arrangement to ensure American military assistance to Israel. I think this is very significant.

And I want to express my thanks for everything that you have done. And I want to thank you also for that statement you just made. I think it’s very, very important.

So I think Israelis will judge this by the unfolding events and by what is happening, what is actually taking place. And for thi — you know, there’s a very simple answer to your question — the gentleman from NBC, right? Yes. Well, for this, you need, you see, a second term as President and a third term as Prime Minister. That really fixes things. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

END          9:12 P.M. IST

Political Headlines March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama: Israel-US cooperation ‘never been greater’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Israel-U.S. cooperation ‘never been greater’

Source: Politico (blog), 3-20-13

Here’s the message President Barack Obama wrote in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s guest book Wednesday, at least as much of it as is clear from the photo released by Netanyahu’s office….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama & President Shimon Peres’ Speeches After Meeting at President’s Residence in Jerusalem Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Peres After Meeting

Source: WH, 3-20-13 

President’s Residence
Jerusalem

5:10 P.M. IST

PRESIDENT PERES:  President Obama, it is a great privilege for me and for the people of Israel to host you here in Jerusalem.

It was a real pleasure to sit with a true friend — very knowledgeable, fortunately — and sit candidly and discuss issues openly and freely.

After the meeting we just had, I have all confidence that your vision can transform the Middle East.  Your vision is achievable.  You arrived here already with an impressive record of answering our needs, particularly — and unforgettably — in the domain of security.  I want to thank you personally, dear friend, for the long days and for many long, sleepless nights — you know about them — which you spend caring for our country and for our future.

We live in an age that is both global and domestic, inseparably.  Interest may divide people; vision may unite them. There is common vision uniting us to confront the dangers, to bring peace closer as soon as possible.  The greatest danger is a nuclear Iran — so you said, so you do.  We trust your policy, which calls to, first, by non-military — to fight by non-military means with a clear statement that other options remain on the table.  You made it clear that your intention is not to contain but to prevent.

We are trying together to start negotiations with the Palestinians.  We already agreed that the goal is a two states for the two people solution.  There is no better one, or more achievable one.  We consider that the President of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, is our partner in that effort to stop terror and bring peace.

Hamas remains a terror organization that targets innocent people.  On our northern border, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, continues to stockpile arms and threaten our civilians while they target innocent people across the world.  Hezbollah is destroying Lebanon and supporting the brutal massacre of the Syrian people by President Assad.  Fortunately, the Syrian nuclear capacity was destroyed.  But unfortunately, thousands of chemical weapons remain.  We cannot allow those weapons to fall in the terrorists’ hands.  It could lead to an epic tragedy.

There is an attempt to bring spring to the Arab world.  It is an Arab choice.  It is an Arab initiative.  It may bring peace to the region, freedom to the people, economic growth to the Arab states.  If realized, it can lead to a better tomorrow.  We pray it will become a reality.

I really believe the vision is within skeptics and those who believe in peace.  Your voice will encourage belief.  You came to us with a clear message that no one should let skepticism win the day — a vision that states clearly that peace is not only a wish, but a possibility.  I fully support your call.  There is no other way to make the future better.  There is no better leader to make it possible.

Your visit is a historic step in that direction.  We shall journey with you all the way.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you so much.

Well, thank you, President Peres, for your very generous words and your warm welcome.  It is wonderful to be here once again.  I first visited you when I was still a senator and had the opportunity to visit the lovely garden, and for me to be able to bring a tree from the United States that will find a home in that garden I think is symbolic of not only the friendship between our two nations, but between the two of us personally.

Mr. President, you once remarked that a prime minister’s job is to rule, a president’s job is to charm.  Well, as with all our visits together, I have once again succumbed to your charms and I’m grateful to your hospitality.

It is wonderful to be back in Jerusalem, the Eternal City.  And I’m pleased to begin my visit with a son of Israel who’s devoted his life to keeping Israel strong and sustaining the bonds between our two nations.  President Peres knows that this is a work of generations.  Just as he joined the struggle for Israeli independence in his early 20s, he’s always looking ahead, connecting with young people.  And I’m especially grateful for the time he allowed me to share with those extraordinary Israeli boys and girls.

Their dreams are much the same as children everywhere.  In another sense, though, their lives reflect the difficult realities that Israelis face every single day.  They want to be safe.  They want to be free from rockets that hit their homes or their schools.  They want a world where science and technology is created to build and not destroy.  They want to live in peace, free from terror and threats that are so often directed at the Israeli people.  That’s the future that they deserve.  That’s the vision that is shared by both our nations.  And that is Shimon Peres’s life work.

And, Mr. President, Michelle and I have such fond memories of your visit to the White House last spring, when I was honored to present you with America’s highest civilian honor — our Medal of Freedom.  And that medal was a tribute to your extraordinary life, in which you have held virtually every position in the Israeli government.

So today was another opportunity for me to benefit from the President’s perspective on a whole range of topics — from the historic changes that are taking place across the region to the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran, to the imperatives of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to the promise of our digital age.

And I should note that one of the advantages of talking to President Peres is not only does he have astonishing vision, but he’s also a pretty practical-minded politician and consistently has good advice in terms of how we can approach many of these problems.

I reaffirmed to President Peres, as I will throughout my visit, that in this work, the State of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States.  And the work we do in our time will make it more likely that the children that we saw today alongside children from throughout the region have the opportunity for security and peace and prosperity.

This obligation to future generations I think was well symbolized by the tree planting that we started our meeting with. The Talmud recounts the story of Honi, the miracle worker, who saw a man planting a carob tree.  And he asked the man, how long before this tree yields fruit?  To which the man responded, “Seventy years.”  And so Honi asked, “Are you sure you’ll be alive in another 70 years to see it?”  And the man replied, “When I came into the world, I found carob trees.  As my forefathers planted for me, so will I plant for my children.”

President Peres I think understands that story well.  And so we want to all thank you for all the seeds you’ve planted — the seeds of progress, the seeds of security, the seeds of peace —  all the seeds that have helped not only Israel grow but also the relationship between our two nations grow.  And I believe that if we tend to them, if we nurture them, they will yield fruit in every hill and valley of this land, not only for the children we met today but for Israelis, for Palestinians, for Arabs across the region.  That’s not only good for the children of this region, but it’s good for my children and the children of America.

I deeply believe that.  And I couldn’t ask for a more wise or more thoughtful partner in that process.  I’m very grateful for you hospitality, and I look forward to our continued work in the future.

END
5:19 P.M. IST

Political Headlines March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama Arriving in Israel Vows ‘Unwavering Commitment’ to Israeli Security

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama in Israel Vows ‘Unwavering Commitment’ to Israeli Security

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-20-13

Marc Israel Sellem-Pool/Getty Images

Arriving in Israel Wednesday morning for his first presidential visit to Israel, President Obama sought to reassure Israelis of the strong support from the U.S. as they face increasing threats in the region, declaring “our alliance is eternal.”

Standing on the tarmac in Tel Aviv, Obama said it was “no accident” that he chose Israel for the first foreign trip of his second term.

“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors,” Obama said….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama Arrives in Israel to Kick Off Middle East Tour

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama Arrives in Israel to Kick Off Middle East Tour

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-20-13

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama arrived in Israel Wednesday for his first presidential trip to the country.

Speaking at an airport ceremony in Tel Aviv, Obama, who is on a four-day tour of the Middle East, said he sees his visit to Israel “as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

“The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,” the president said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 20, 2013: President Barack Obama’s speech on arrival in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Tells Israeli People: The U.S Is Proud to Be “Your Strongest Ally and Your Greatest Friend”

Source: WH, 3-20-13

President Obama and Israeli President Peres inspect an honor guard in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20, 2013President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres inspect an honor guard during the official arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On the first day of his visit to the Middle East, the first foreign trip of his second term, President Obama was in Israel, where he met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The visit is historic, marking the first time the President has visited Israel since taking office, and comes as its citizens celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel.

President Obama’s visit began with an arrival ceremony at the Ben Gurion airport, followed by an inspection of the Iron Dome Battery defense system in Tel Aviv. The Iron Dome is a short range rocket and mortar defense system, which was developed by Israel and produced with U.S. assistance and is part of a multi-tier missile defense developed to counter the rocket threat against Israel’s civilian population. From there, the President flew on to Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli leaders and attended a working dinner with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Shortly after he landed in the Holy Land, President Obama took a minute to explain why this trip is so important for both the American and the Israeli people….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama in Arrival Ceremony

Source: WH, 3-20-13 

Ben Gurion International Airport
Tel Aviv, Israel

12:55 P.M. IST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Shalom.  (Applause.)  President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and most of all, to the people of Israel, thank you for this incredibly warm welcome.  This is my third visit to Israel so let me just say tov lihiyot shuv ba’aretz.  (Applause.)

I’m so honored to be here as you prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel.  Yet I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here.  And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages — to be “masters of their own fate” in “their own sovereign state.”  And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

As I begin my second term as President, Israel is the first stop on my first foreign trip.  This is no accident.  Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril.  So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.

I want to begin right now, by answering a question that is sometimes asked about our relationship — why?  Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel?  And the answer is simple.  We stand together because we share a common story — patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.

We stand together because we are democracies.  For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.

We stand together because it makes us more prosperous.  Our trade and investment create jobs for both our peoples.  Our partnerships in science and medicine and health bring us closer to new cures, harness new energy and have helped transform us into high-tech hubs of our global economy.

We stand together because we share a commitment to helping our fellow human beings around the world.  When the earth shakes and the floods come, our doctors and rescuers reach out to help. When people are suffering, from Africa to Asia, we partner to fight disease and overcome hunger.

And we stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land.  For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbors.

So as I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can –the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.  It makes us both stronger.  It makes us both more prosperous.  And it makes the world a better place.  (Applause.)

That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago.  That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today.  And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever – lanetzach.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
1:01 P.M. IST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 19 2013: President Barack Obama’s Middle East Trip to Israel & Jordan March 20-23, 2013 Schedule

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama’s Middle East Trip March 20-23, 2013

Source: WH

Related Blog Posts

Related Videos

Middle East Trip 2013

In the first foreign trip of his second term in office, President Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan.

Trip Schedule

WEDNESDAY

  • President Obama will arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel, marking the President’s first trip to Israel as President of the United States.
  • President Obama will view an *Iron Dome Battery in Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • Later, President Obama will attend a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Peres in Jerusalem.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama will attend a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, followed by a press conference.
  • In the evening, President Obama will attend a working dinner hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

* Iron Dome is a short range rocket and mortar defense system, which was developed by Israel and produced with U.S. assistance. The Iron Dome system has saved countless Israeli lives, most recently during the November 2012 Gaza conflict.

THURSDAY

  • President Obama will visit the Israel Museum, where he will view the Dead Sea Scrolls and also attend a technology expo.
  • President Obama will travel to Ramallah, West Bank where he will be greeted with an official arrival ceremony.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama will have a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas.
  • President Obama will participate in a working lunch with Palestinian Authority President Abbas followed by a press conference.
  • Later, President Obama will attend a cultural event at Al-Bireh Youth Center and will meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad.
  • President Obama will give a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center.
  • In the evening, President Obama will attend a dinner hosted by Israeli President Peres and will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction.

FRIDAY

  • The President will attend wreath laying ceremonies at Mount Herzl at the grave sites of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin.
  • President Obama will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and participate in a wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama will travel to Bethlehem where he will tour the Church of the Nativity.
  • President Obama will travel to Amman, Jordan where he will be greeted by an official arrival ceremony.
  • President Obama will have a bilateral meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan followed by a press conference.
  • In the evening, the President will have dinner with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

SATURDAY

  • President Obama will travel to Petra.
  • President Obama will begin his journey back to the United States.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 14, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Interview with Yonit Levy on Israel’s Channel 2 Excerpts — White House Interview Ahead of Israel Visit

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama: Diplomatic fix with Iran would be ‘a more lasting solution’

Source: Times of Israel, 3-14-13

Channel 2 broadcasts White House interview with the president ahead of his visit next week

President describes ‘terrific, businesslike’ relationship with ‘Bibi’

US President Barack Obama is interviewed on Channel 2 News, Thursday, March 14 (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)

US President Barack Obama is interviewed on Channel 2 News, Thursday, March 14 (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)

Ahead of his first visit to Israel as president next Wednesday, Barack Obama was interviewed Wednesday by Israel’s Channel 2. The interview at the White House, with news anchor Yonit Levy, was screened on Thursday.

20:47

As president, you can’t just interact with people informally

“You can’t just slip out and interact with people without having a bunch of guys with machine-guns” hanging out with you….

Ventures Levy: There must be some compensations?

Obama: Well, there’s “a nice plane.”

20:40

Jonathan Pollard committed a very serious crime

“I recognize the emotions involved in this… My first obligation is to observe the law.”…

20:37

Coming to ‘listen’ on the Palestinian issue…

20:33

‘Terrific, businesslike’ relationship with ‘Bibi’

Levy pushes on the Obama-Netanyahu relationship.

“The bottom line is that Israel’s security is going to be at the forefront.” It’s not a factor of who’s president or prime minister.

“Any time you read something where the president allegedly said something in as private meting, I think you should … take that with a pinch of salt.”…

20:30

Israel has right ‘to be secure as a homeland of the Jewish people’

Levy asks about some Israelis’ negative perceptions of him.

“Some of this is politics… There are conservative views both here in the United States and Israel that may not jive with mine.”… “I’ve run my last election…”

“The fundamental right of Israel to be secure as a homeland of the Jewish people, and its connection to the land.”

“Resolving the Palestinian issue is good” for Israel’s security. If it can be resolved, he stresses….

20:26

On Iran, my cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies

“My cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies.” Kerry and Hagel “share my fundamental view” on a nuclear Iran as a threat to US interest….

20:23

I’ve been crystal clear on Iran

“We think it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close.”…

20:20

It’s a chance to connect with the Israeli people

What took you so long to come?

Well, we’ve had some crises in the United States…. It’s a chance to connect with the Israeli people. The bonds.. are so strong. Shared values. Shared families… Unshakeable commitment… and a shared vision… I’m really looking forward to it.

20:18

The Obama interview in full

20:15

‘I’d love to sit at a cafe and just hang out’

“I’d love to sit at a cafe and just hang out. Sometimes I have this fantasy that I can put on a disguise and wear a fake mustache” and wander into Tel Aviv, go to a university and speak to some students, “in a setting that wasn’t so formal.”…

20:06

Obama: It would take Iran over a year to build the bomb

We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close. So when I am consulting with Bibi… my message to him will be the same as before: If we can resolve it diplomatically, that’s a more lasting solution.

When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table….

19:59

Obama: No plan to release Pollard

Obama: We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon.

And: I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately….

19:58

Plenty of hype ahead of the broadcast

19:51

Channel 2 set to broadcast its Obama interview

White House Recap November 19-25, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — Thankgiving at the White House & Turkey Pardon

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: NOVEMBER 19-25, 2011

West Wing Week

The President wrapped up an 8 day tour in the Asia Pacific region, signed legislation to help our veterans find jobs, urged Congress to cut payroll taxes, and pardoned two turkeys. That’s November 18th to November 24th or “Your Best You.”

West Wing Week

West Wing Week: 11/24/11 or “Your Best You”

Source: WH, 11-24-11

This week, the President wrapped up an 8 day tour demonstrating American leadership and opening up economic opportunity for America in the Asia Pacific region. Upon his return he signed legislation to help our veterans find jobs, traveled to New Hampshire to urge Congress to cut payroll taxes for workers and small businesses, and pardoned two turkeys. That’s November 18th to November 24th or “Your Best You.”

Full Text November 11-19, 2011: President Obama’s Asia Pacfic Tour — Trip to Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President’s 2011 Asia Pacific Trip

Source: WH, 11-11

  • November 11th: President Obama attends the Carrier Classic in honor of Veterans Day.
  • November 12th: President Obama speaks before the first session of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
  • November 13th: President Obama makes remarks and takes questions about progress made at the APEC summit.
  • November 16th: President Obama meets with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
  • November 17th: President Obama gives an address before the Australian Parliament.
  • November 17th: President Obama speaks to Australian troops and U.S. Marines.
  • November 18th: President Obama attends the East Asia Summit in Indonesia.
  • November 19th: President Obama returns to the United States.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

  • November 19, 2011 at 5:30 AM EST

    Weekly Address: Creating an Economy Built to Last

    From Indonesia, President Obama talks about his administration’s work opening up markets to support thousands of American jobs and keep us on track to double American exports by 2014.

  • November 18, 2011 at 6:33 PM EST

    President Obama at the East Asia Summit

    In Indonesia, President Obama was able to announce business deals with countries in the Pacific that will help support 127,000 American jobs.

  • November 18, 2011 at 5:39 PM EST

    By the Numbers: 150 Percent

    Trade with nations in the Asia Pacific region has grown by 150 percent since 1994.

  • November 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST

    On the Road with the President

    We’ll be back next week with a special edition of West Wing Week, but for now, check out a few clips from the road.

  • November 17, 2011 at 1:05 PM EST

    President Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament

    The President discussed America’s future and what that means for the Pacific.

  • November 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM EST

    Expanded Military Ties in Australia

    When President Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday, they announced plans for the first sustained American military presence in Australia.

  • November 15, 2011 at 7:15 PM EST

    Renewing Ties in the Pacific

    When President Obama touches down in Australia, he’ll arrive with two major goals: strengthening our relationships and promoting security in the Pacific.

  • November 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM EST

    The First Lady in Hawaii for APEC

    This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President in Hawaii to help host the conference of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.

Full Text November 18, 2011: President Barack Obama at the East Asia Summit

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at the East Asia Summit

Source: WH, 11-18-11
20111118 East Asia Summit

President Barack Obama poses for a photo with other leaders at the start of the US – ASEAN summit at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center in Nusa Dua, Bali, Nov. 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is in Indonesia for the East Asia Summit. He’s the first American president to attend the conference.

There, he’s held bilateral meetings with the leaders of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

He’s announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Burma to discuss that country’s efforts to institute important, democratic reforms.

But much of his work was focused on helping to open up markets to American exports. On this trip, the President was able to announce business deals worth at least $25 billion between American companies and countries in the region.

Those transactions will help to support around 127,000 American job

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES



Full Text November 17, 2011: President Barack Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament on Asia Pacific Tour — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament

Source: WH, 11-17-11
20111117 POTUS at Parliament

President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Even as President Obama works to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s laying the groundwork to prepare America for the decades ahead.

And yesterday afternoon, he told Australian lawmakers that means shifting our attention to the Pacific:

Here, we see the future. As the world’s fastest-growing region — and home to more than half the global economy — the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that’s creating jobs and opportunity for the American people. With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.

As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.

The President outlined a framework through which American military strength helps to guarantee security in the region, where growing economic ties help to deliver a shared prosperity, and where renewed diplomatic relationships promote human rights and freedom.

“History is on the side of the free — free societies, free governments, free economies, free people,” President Obama said in Canberra. “And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world.”

Read the full remarks here.

See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama says the United States will play a large role in shaping the Pacific and its future — in part through a renewed relationship with Australia.

President Obama addresses the Australian Parliament
President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 11/17/11

Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament

Parliament House
Canberra, Australia

10:42 A.M. AEST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Prime Minister Gillard, Leader Abbott, thank you both for your very warm welcome.  Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the House and Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the honor of standing in this great chamber to reaffirm the bonds between the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia, two of the world’s oldest democracies and two of the world’s oldest friends.

To you and the people of Australia, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality.  And here, in this city — this ancient “meeting place” — I want to acknowledge the original inhabitants of this land, and one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, the First Australians.

I first came to Australia as a child, traveling between my birthplace of Hawaii, and Indonesia, where I would live for four years.  As an eight-year-old, I couldn’t always understand your foreign language.  (Laughter.)  Last night I did try to talk some “Strine.”  (Laughter.)  Today I don’t want to subject you to any earbashing.  I really do love that one and I will be introducing that into the vernacular in Washington.  (Laughter.)

But to a young American boy, Australia and its people — your optimism, your easy-going ways, your irreverent sense of humor — all felt so familiar.  It felt like home.  I’ve always wanted to return.  I tried last year — twice.  But this is a Lucky Country, and today I feel lucky to be here as we mark the 60th anniversary of our unbreakable alliance.

The bonds between us run deep.  In each other’s story we see so much of ourselves.  Ancestors who crossed vast oceans — some by choice, some in chains.  Settlers who pushed west across sweeping plains.  Dreamers who toiled with hearts and hands to lay railroads and to build cities.  Generations of immigrants who, with each new arrival, add a new thread to the brilliant tapestry of our nations.  And we are citizens who live by a common creed — no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, everyone deserves a fair chance; everyone deserves a fair go.

Of course, progress in our society has not always come without tensions, or struggles to overcome a painful past.  But we are countries with a willingness to face our imperfections, and to keep reaching for our ideals.  That’s the spirit we saw in this chamber three years ago, as this nation inspired the world with a historic gesture of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.  It’s the spirit of progress, in America, which allows me to stand before you today, as President of the United States.  And it’s the spirit I’ll see later today when I become the first U.S. President to visit the Northern Territory, where I’ll meet the Traditional Owners of the Land.

Nor has our progress come without great sacrifice.  This morning, I was humbled and deeply moved by a visit to your war memorial to pay my respects to Australia’s fallen sons and daughters.  Later today, in Darwin, I’ll join the Prime Minister in saluting our brave men and women in uniform.  And it will be a reminder that — from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains of Afghanistan — Aussies and Americans have stood together, we have fought together, we have given lives together in every single major conflict of the past hundred years.  Every single one.

This solidarity has sustained us through a difficult decade. We will never forget the attacks of 9/11, that took the lives not only of Americans, but people from many nations, including Australia.  In the United States, we will never forget how Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty — for the first time ever — showing that our two nations stood as one.  And none of us will ever forget those we’ve lost to al Qaeda’s terror in the years since, including innocent Australians.

And that’s why, as both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader indicated, we are determined to succeed in Afghanistan.  It is why I salute Australia — outside of NATO, the largest contributor of troops to this vital mission.  And it’s why we honor all those who have served there for our security, including 32 Australian patriots who gave their lives, among them Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin.  We will honor their sacrifice by making sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a source for attacks against our people.  Never again.

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and the dignity of people around the world.  We see it when our rescue workers rush to help others in times of fire and drought and flooding rains.  We see it when we partner to keep the peace — from East Timor to the Balkans — and when we pursue our shared vision:  a world without nuclear weapons.  We see it in the development that lifts up a child in Africa; the assistance that saves a family from famine; and when we extend our support to the people of the Middle East and North Africa, who deserve the same liberty that allows us to gather in this great hall of democracy.

This is the alliance we reaffirm today — rooted in our values; renewed by every generation.  This is the partnership we worked to deepen over the past three years.  And today I can stand before you and say with confidence that the alliance between the United States and Australia has never been stronger. It has been to our past; our alliance continues to be indispensable to our future.  So here, among close friends, I’d like to address the larger purpose of my visit to this region — our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia Pacific.

For the United States, this reflects a broader shift.  After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.  In just a few weeks, after nearly nine years, the last American troops will leave Iraq and our war there will be over.  In Afghanistan, we’ve begun a transition — a responsible transition — so Afghans can take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces can begin to draw down.  And with partners like Australia, we’ve struck major blows against al Qaeda and put that terrorist organization on the path to defeat, including delivering justice to Osama bin Laden.

So make no mistake, the tide of war is receding, and America is looking ahead to the future that we must build.  From Europe to the Americas, we’ve strengthened alliances and partnerships.  At home, we’re investing in the sources of our long-term economic strength — the education of our children, the training of our workers, the infrastructure that fuels commerce, the science and the research that leads to new breakthroughs.  We’ve made hard decisions to cut our deficit and put our fiscal house in order — and we will continue to do more.  Because our economic strength at home is the foundation of our leadership in the world, including here in the Asia Pacific.

Our new focus on this region reflects a fundamental truth — the United States has been, and always will be, a Pacific nation. Asian immigrants helped build America, and millions of American families, including my own, cherish our ties to this region.  From the bombing of Darwin to the liberation of Pacific islands, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to a cold Korean Peninsula, generations of Americans have served here, and died here — so democracies could take root; so economic miracles could lift hundreds of millions to prosperity.  Americans have bled with you for this progress, and we will not allow it — we will never allow it to be reversed.

Here, we see the future.  As the world’s fastest-growing region — and home to more than half the global economy — the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that’s creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.  With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.

As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.

Let me tell you what this means.  First, we seek security, which is the foundation of peace and prosperity.  We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld.  Where international law and norms are enforced.  Where commerce and freedom of navigation are not impeded.  Where emerging powers contribute to regional security, and where disagreements are resolved peacefully.  That’s the future that we seek.

Now, I know that some in this region have wondered about America’s commitment to upholding these principles.  So let me address this directly.  As the United States puts our fiscal house in order, we are reducing our spending.  And, yes, after a decade of extraordinary growth in our military budgets — and as we definitively end the war in Iraq, and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan — we will make some reductions in defense spending.

As we consider the future of our armed forces, we’ve begun a review that will identify our most important strategic interests and guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade.  So here is what this region must know.  As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.  As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.

My guidance is clear.  As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.  We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.  We will keep our commitments, including our treaty obligations to allies like Australia.  And we will constantly strengthen our capabilities to meet the needs of the 21st century.  Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.  The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.

Indeed, we are already modernizing America’s defense posture across the Asia Pacific.  It will be more broadly distributed — maintaining our strong presence in Japan and the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia.  Our posture will be more flexible — with new capabilities to ensure that our forces can operate freely.  And our posture will be more sustainable, by helping allies and partners build their capacity, with more training and exercises.

We see our new posture here in Australia.  The initiatives that the Prime Minister and I announced yesterday will bring our two militaries even closer together.  We’ll have new opportunities to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.  And it will allow us to respond faster to the full range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief.

Since World War II, Australians have warmly welcomed American service members who’ve passed through.  On behalf of the American people, I thank you for welcoming those who will come next, as they ensure that our alliance stays strong and ready for the tests of our time.

We see America’s enhanced presence in the alliance that we’ve strengthened:  In Japan, where our alliance remains a cornerstone of regional security.  In Thailand, where we’re partnering for disaster relief.  In the Philippines, where we’re increasing ship visits and training.  And in South Korea, where our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.  Indeed, we also reiterate our resolve to act firmly against any proliferation activities by North Korea.  The transfer of nuclear materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.

We see America’s enhanced presence across Southeast Asia — in our partnership with Indonesia against piracy and violent extremism, and in our work with Malaysia to prevent proliferation; in the ships we’ll deploy to Singapore, and in our closer cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia; and in our welcome of India as it “looks east” and plays a larger role as an Asian power.

At the same time, we’ll reengage with our regional organizations.  Our work in Bali this week will mark my third meeting with ASEAN leaders, and I’ll be proud to be the first American President to attend the East Asia Summit.  And together, I believe we can address shared challenges, such as proliferation and maritime security, including cooperation in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the United States will continue our effort to build a cooperative relationship with China.  All of our nations — Australia, the United States — all of our nations have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China. That’s why the United States welcomes it.  We’ve seen that China can be a partner from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to preventing proliferation.  And we’ll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.  We will do this, even as we continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people.

A secure and peaceful Asia is the foundation for the second area in which America is leading again, and that’s advancing our shared prosperity.  History teaches us the greatest force the world has ever known for creating wealth and opportunity is free markets.  So we seek economies that are open and transparent.  We seek trade that is free and fair.  And we seek an open international economic system, where rules are clear and every nation plays by them.

In Australia and America, we understand these principles.  We’re among the most open economies on Earth.  Six years into our landmark trade agreement, commerce between us has soared.  Our workers are creating new partnerships and new products, like the advanced aircraft technologies we build together in Victoria.  We’re the leading investor in Australia, and you invest more in America than you do in any other nation, creating good jobs in both countries.

We recognize that economic partnerships can’t just be about one nation extracting another’s resources.  We understand that no long-term strategy for growth can be imposed from above.  Real prosperity — prosperity that fosters innovation, and prosperity that endures — comes from unleashing our greatest economic resource, and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit, the talents of our people.

So even as America competes aggressively in Asian markets, we’re forging the economic partnerships that create opportunity for all.  Building on our historic trade agreement with South Korea, we’re working with Australia and our other APEC partners to create a seamless regional economy.  And with Australia and other partners, we’re on track to achieve our most ambitious trade agreement yet, and a potential model for the entire region — the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The United States remains the world’s largest and most dynamic economy.  But in an interconnected world, we all rise and fall together.  That’s why I pushed so hard to put the G20 at the front and center of global economic decision-making — to give more nations a leadership role in managing the international economy, including Australia.  And together, we saved the world economy from a depression.  And now, our urgent challenge is to create the growth that puts people to work.

We need growth that is fair, where every nation plays by the rules; where workers rights are respected, and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market driven so no nation has an unfair advantage.

We also need growth that is broad — not just for the few, but for the many — with reforms that protect consumers from abuse and a global commitment to end the corruption that stifles growth.  We need growth that is balanced, because we will all prosper more when countries with large surpluses take action to boost demand at home.

And we need growth that is sustainable.  This includes the clean energy that creates green jobs and combats climate change, which cannot be denied.  We see it in the stronger fires, the devastating floods, the Pacific islands confronting rising seas. And as countries with large carbon footprints, the United States and Australia have a special responsibility to lead.

Every nation will contribute to the solution in its own way — and I know this issue is not without controversy, in both our countries.  But what we can do — and what we are doing — is to work together to make unprecedented investments in clean energy, to increase energy efficiency, and to meet the commitments we made at Copenhagen and Cancun.  We can do this, and we will.

As we grow our economies, we’ll also remember the link between growth and good governance — the rule of law, transparent institutions, the equal administration of justice.  Because history shows that, over the long run, democracy and economic growth go hand in hand.  And prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.

And this brings me to the final area where we are leading — our support for the fundamental rights of every human being.  Every nation will chart its own course.  Yet it is also true that certain rights are universal; among them, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders.

These are not American rights, or Australian rights, or Western rights.  These are human rights.  They stir in every soul, as we’ve seen in the democracies that have succeeded here in Asia.  Other models have been tried and they have failed — fascism and communism, rule by one man and rule by committee.  And they failed for the same simple reason:  They ignore the ultimate source of power and legitimacy — the will of the people.  Yes, democracy can be messy and rough — I understand you mix it up quite well during Question Time.  (Laughter.)  But whatever our differences of party or of ideology, we know in our democracies we are blessed with the greatest form of government ever known to man.

So as two great democracies, we speak up for those freedoms when they are threatened.  We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends.  We encourage open government, because democracies depend on an informed and active citizenry.  We help strengthen civil societies, because they empower our citizens to hold their governments accountable.  And we advance the rights of all people — women, minorities and indigenous cultures — because when societies harness the potential of all their citizens, these societies are more successful, they are more prosperous and they are more just.

These principles have guided our approach to Burma, with a combination of sanctions and engagement.  And today, Aung San Suu Kyi is free from house arrest.  Some political prisoners have been released, and the government has begun a dialogue.  Still, violations of human rights persist.  So we will continue to speak clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States.

This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.  That’s what we stand for.  That’s who we are.  That’s the future we will pursue, in partnership with allies and friends, and with every element of American power.  So let there be no doubt:  In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.

Still, in times of great change and uncertainty, the future can seem unsettling.  Across a vast ocean, it’s impossible to know what lies beyond the horizon.  But if this vast region and its people teach us anything, it’s the yearning for liberty and progress will not be denied.

It’s why women in this country demanded that their voices be heard, making Australia the first nation to let women vote and run for parliament and, one day, become Prime Minister.  It’s why the people took to the streets — from Delhi to Seoul, from Manila to Jakarta — to throw off colonialism and dictatorship and build some of the world’s largest democracies.

It’s why a soldier in a watchtower along the DMZ defends a free people in the South, and why a man from the North risks his life to escape across the border.  Why soldiers in blue helmets keep the peace in a new nation.  And why women of courage go into brothels to save young girls from modern-day slavery, which must come to an end.

It’s why men of peace in saffron robes faced beatings and bullets, and why every day — from some of the world’s largest cities to dusty rural towns, in small acts of courage the world may never see — a student posts a blog; a citizen signs a charter; an activist remains unbowed, imprisoned in his home, just to have the same rights that we cherish here today.

Men and women like these know what the world must never forget.  The currents of history may ebb and flow, but over time they move — decidedly, decisively — in a single direction.  History is on the side of the free — free societies, free governments, free economies, free people.  And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world.

This is the story of the alliance we celebrate today.  This is the essence of America’s leadership; it is the essence of our partnership.  This is the work we will carry on together, for the security and prosperity and dignity of all people.

So God bless Australia.  God bless America.  And God bless the friendship between our two peoples.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:10 A.M. AEST

Full Text November 16, 2011: President Obama and Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard Remarks at Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Expanded Military Ties in Australia

Source: WH, 11-16-11
20111116 POTUS PM Gillard

President Barack Obama holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

When President Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday, they announced plans for the first sustained American military presence in Australia.

By the end of 2012, 250 Marines will begin six month rotations, and in the years ahead, that force will build out to 2,500. They’ll train alongside Australian troops and live on Australian bases. In addition, the U.S. Air Force will have additional access to Australian airfields.

At the news conference with the Prime Minister, President Obama said:

The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia. We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish. And for nearly a century, we’ve stood together in defense of these freedoms. And I’m very happy to be here as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our alliance, and as we work together to strengthen it for the future.

Read the full remarks here.

See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Gillard of Australia in Joint Press Conference

Parliament House
Canberra, Australia

6:10 P.M. AEST

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Good evening, one and all.  I take this opportunity to very warmly welcome President Obama to Australia for his first visit as President.  President Obama is no stranger to our shores, having visited Australia before.  But it is a special delight to have him here for his first visit as President.  And it comes at an important time in our nation’s history and in the history of our region.

We will be looking back during this visit — we’ll be looking back at 60 years of the ANZUS alliance.  We’ll be looking back 10 years to the dreadful day of 9/11, a day we all remember with great sorrow.  And we will be reflecting on those events.  But we will be looking forward.

We live in the growing region of the world where its global — contribution to global growth is a profound one.  We live in a region which is changing, changing in important ways.  And as a result of those changes, President Obama and I have been discussing the best way of our militaries cooperating for the future.

So I’m very pleased to be able to announce with President Obama that we’ve agreed joint initiatives to enhance our alliance — 60 years old and being kept robust for tomorrow.  It is a new agreement to expand the existing collaboration between the Australian Defence Force and the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force.  What this means in very practical detail is from mid-2012, Australia will welcome deployments of a company-size rotation of 200 to 250 Marines in the Northern Territory for around six months at a time.

Over a number of years, we intend to build on this relationship in a staged way to a full force of around 2,500 personnel — that is a four Marine Air Ground Task Force.

A second component of these initiatives which we have agreed is greater access by U.S. military aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force facilities in our country’s north.  This will involve more frequent movements of U.S. military aircraft into and out of northern Australia.  Now, taken together, these two initiatives make our alliance stronger, they strengthen our cooperation in our region.

We are a region that is growing economically.  But stability is important for economic growth, too.  And our alliance has been a bedrock of stability in our region.  So building on our alliance through this new initiative is about stability.  It will be good for our Australian Defence Force to increase their capabilities by joint training, combined training, with the U.S. Marines and personnel.  It will mean that we are postured to better respond together, along with other partners in the Asia Pacific, to any regional contingency, including the provision of humanitarian assistance and dealing with natural disasters.

In addition to discussing this global force posture review by the United States and these new initiatives in our alliance, the President of the United States and I have had an opportunity to reflect on a number of other issues — to reflect on circumstances in the global economy; to reflect on a clean energy future for our nations and for our planet; to reflect on the forthcoming East Asia Summit.  President Obama will proceed from Australia to that summit in Indonesia, where he spent time growing up.

We’ve had a comprehensive discussion.  I very much welcome President Obama to Australia.  I think he’s already seen that the welcome he’s getting from Australians, including Australian schoolchildren, is a very warm one.  And I know that that is going to be sustained during tonight’s events and the events of tomorrow.

President Obama, over to you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good day, everybody.  And thank you, Madam Prime Minister, for your generous welcome, your friendship and your partnership.  I am thrilled to be Down Under.

As you may know, this is not my first visit to Australia.  In fact, I first visited Australia as a boy.  And I’ve never forgotten the warmth and kindness that the Australian people extended to me when I was six and eight.  And I can see that the Australian people have lost none of that warmth.

I very much wanted to take this trip last year, and although events back home prevented me from doing so, I was determined to come for a simple reason:  The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia.  We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish.  And for nearly a century, we’ve stood together in defense of these freedoms.  And I’m very happy to be here as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our alliance, and as we work together to strengthen it for the future.

We are two Pacific nations, and with my visit to the region I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia Pacific.  In this work, we’re deeply grateful for our alliance with Australia and the leadership role that it plays.  As it has been for six decades, our alliance is going to be indispensable to our shared future, the security we need and the prosperity that we seek not only in this region but around the world.

I’m also very grateful for my partnership with Prime Minister Gillard.  We’ve worked quite a bit together lately —

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  You bet.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  — spanning time zones — the G20 in Cannes, APEC, and TPP in Hawaii, now here in Australia, and next onto Bali for the East Asia Summit.  And this speaks to how closely our countries work together on a wide range of issues.  And in my friend, Julia, I see the quality that we Americans admire most in our Australian friends:  somebody who’s down to earth, easy to talk to, and who says it like it is — straight up.  And that’s why we achieved so much today.

We agreed to push ahead with our efforts to create jobs for our people by bringing our economies and those of the region even closer together.  Building on our progress at APEC, we’re going to keep striving for a seamless regional economy.  And as the two largest economies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia and the United States are helping to lead the way to a new model for trade across the region.  And along with our G20 partners, we agreed that we have to stay focused on the growth that creates jobs, and that every nation needs to play by the same economic rules of the road.

As two global partners, we discussed the whole range of challenges where we stand shoulder to shoulder, including Afghanistan.  Obviously, this has not been an easy mission for either of our countries, and our hearts go out to the families that were affected on October 29th.  But we both understand what’s at stake — what happens when al Qaeda has safe havens.  We’ve seen the awful loss of life — from 9/11 to Bali.

So I thanked the Prime Minister for Australia’s strong commitment to this mission.  I salute the extraordinary sacrifices of our forces who serve together, including your Australian troops who’ve shown that no job is too tough for your “Diggers.”  Today, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the way forward.  The transition has begun.  Afghans are stepping into the lead.  As they do, our troops — American and Australian — will draw down responsibly together so that we preserve the progress that we’ve made, and by 2014, Afghans will take full responsibility for security in their country.

But our focus today, as the Prime Minister said, was on preparing our alliance for the future.  And so I am very pleased that we are able to make these announcements here together on Australian soil.  Because of these initiatives that are the result of our countries working very closely together as partners, we’re going to be in a position to more effectively strengthen the security of both of our nations and this region.

As Julia described, we are increasing our cooperation — and I’d add, America’s commitment to this region.  Our U.S. Marines will begin rotating through Darwin for joint training and exercises.  Our Air Force will rotate additional aircraft through more airfields in Northern Australia.  And these rotations, which are going to be taking place on Australian bases, will bring our militaries even closer and make them even more effective.  We’ll enhance our ability to train, exercise, and operate with allies and partners across the region, and that, in turn, will allow us to work with these nations to respond even faster to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation across the region.

And this commitment builds upon the best traditions of our alliance.  For decades, Australians have welcomed our service members as they’ve come here to work, train, and exercise together.  And I’m looking forward to joining the Prime Minister in Darwin tomorrow to thank our troops — Australians and Americans — for the incredible work that they are doing.

Finally, as I’ll discuss more in my speech to Parliament tomorrow, this deepening of our alliance sends a clear message of our commitment to this region, a commitment that is enduring and unwavering.  It’s a commitment that I’ll reaffirm in Bali as the United States joins the East Asia Summit.  And I want to thank our Australian friends who supported our membership so strongly and have worked to make sure that the EAS addresses regional challenges that affect all of us like proliferation and maritime security.

So, again, I’m very pleased that we’re able to make these important announcements during my visit.  Madam Prime Minister, I thank you for being such a strong partner and a champion of our alliance.

And once again, I want to thank the Australian people for the kindness they showed me about 40 years ago, and the kindness that they’re showing me during my visit today.  It’s that friendship and that solidarity that makes and keeps our alliance one of the strongest in the world.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you.

We’ll turn to taking some questions.  I think we’ll probably take one from the Australian media first.  Phil Hudson.

Q    Philip Hudson from the Melbourne Herald Sun.  Mr. President, welcome back to Australia.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

Q    You and Prime Minister Gillard have outlined what is for us a significant new U.S. troop buildup.  How much of this is because you’re (inaudible) of China?  And as of today’s deal, U.S. Marines will be for the first time conducting exercises by themselves on Australian soil.  Why is that, and what will they be doing?

And, Mr. President, you also mentioned in your remarks that Afghanistan is not an easy mission.  In the past few months there have been three cases for Australia where our troops have been shot at by the Afghan soldiers who have been training and, sadly, four of our soldiers have died and many others have been injured. Australian public opinion is strongly against our involvement continuing.  You’ve outlined the — just then, the drawdown.  What can you say to the Australian people who don’t want to wait, who want to leave immediately?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first, with respect to these new initiatives, this rotational deployment is significant because what it allows us to do is to not only build capacity and cooperation between our two countries, but it also allows us to meet the demands of a lot of partners in the region that want to feel that they’re getting the training, they’re getting the exercises, and that we have the presence that’s necessary to maintain the security architecture in the region.

And so, as Julia mentioned, this is a region that’s becoming increasingly important.  The economy in this area is going to be the engine for world economic growth for some time to come.  The lines of commerce and trade are constantly expanding.  And it’s appropriate then for us to make sure that not only our alliance but the security architecture of the region is updated for the 21st century, and this initiative is going to allow us to do that.

It also allows us to respond to a whole host of challenges, like humanitarian or disaster relief, that, frankly, given how large the Asia Pacific region is, it can sometimes be difficult to do, and this will allow us to be able to respond in a more timely fashion and also equip a lot of countries, smaller countries who may not have the same capacity, it allows us to equip them so that they can respond more quickly as well.

And I guess the last part of your question, with respect to China, I’ve said repeatedly and I will say again today that we welcome a rising, peaceful China.  What they’ve been able to achieve in terms of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the last two decades has been nothing short of remarkable.  And that is good not just for China, but it’s potentially good for the region.  And I know Australia’s economy, obviously, has benefitted by the increased demand that you’re seeing in China.

The main message that I’ve said not only publicly but also privately to the Chinese is that with their rise comes increased responsibilities.  It’s important for them to play by the rules of the road and, in fact, help underwrite the rules that have allowed so much remarkable economic progress to be made over the last several decades.  And that’s going to be true on a whole host of issues.

So where China is playing by those rules, recognizing its new role, I think this is a win-win situation.  There are going to be times where they’re not, and we will send a clear message to them that we think that they need to be on track in terms of accepting the rules and responsibilities that come with being a world power.

With respect to Afghanistan, the impact of any loss of life among our troops is heartbreaking.  And obviously, as President of the United States, there’s no greater responsibility and nothing more difficult than putting our troops in harm’s way.  I think Prime Minister Gillard feels the same way that I do, which is we would not be sending our young men and women into harm’s way unless we thought it was absolutely necessary for the security of our country.

What we have established is a transition process that allows Afghans to build up their capacity and take on a greater security role over the next two years.  But it’s important that we do it right.  As some of you are aware, I just announced that all remaining troops in Iraq will be removed.  It would have been tempting, given that I have been opposed to the Iraq war from the start, when I came into office, to say, we’re going to get you all out right away.  But what I recognized was that if we weren’t thoughtful about how we proceed, then the enormous sacrifices that had been made by our men and women in the previous years might be for naught.

And what I’d say to the Australian people at this point is, given the enormous investment that’s been made and the signs that we can, in fact, leave behind a country that’s not perfect, but one that is more stable, more secure, and does not provide safe haven for terrorists, it’s appropriate for us to finish the job and do it right.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  If I could just add to that and say, every time I have met President Obama and we’ve talked about our alliance, we’ve talked about our work in Afghanistan, and in our meetings, both formal and informal, the President has shown the greatest possible concern for our troops in the field.  The meetings we’ve had over the last few weeks at various international events have coincided with some of the most bitter and difficult news that we’ve had from Afghanistan, and every step of the way the President has gone out of his way to convey to me his condolences for the Australian people and particularly for the families that have suffered such a grievous loss.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Laura MacInnis, Reuters.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Chancellor Merkel said this week that Europe is in its toughest hour since World War II.  Markets are now showing some anxiety about the possibility of instability spreading to France as well.  Are you worried that the steps European leaders are taking are too incremental so far? Do you think something bolder or a more difficult set of decisions need to be taken to fully (inaudible) that crisis?

I have a question for Prime Minister Gillard as well.  Are you concerned that the fiscal pressures the United States is under at the moment may compromise its ability to sustain its plans for the region, including the initiatives announced today? Do you have to take those with something of a grain of salt until the super committee process is concluded?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  With respect to Europe, I’m deeply concerned, have been deeply concerned, I suspect we’ll be deeply concerned tomorrow and next week and the week after that.  Until we put in place a concrete plan and structure that sends a clear signal to the markets that Europe is standing behind the euro and will do what it takes, we’re going to continue to see the kinds of turmoil that we saw in the markets today — or was it yesterday?  I’m trying to figure out what — (laughter) — what time zone I’m in here.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  It’s all of the time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All of the — right.  (Laughter.)  We have consulted very closely with our European friends.  I think that there is a genuine desire, on the part of leaders like President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel, to solve this crisis.  But they’ve got a complicated political structure.

The problem right now is a problem of political will; it’s not a technical problem.  We saw some progress with Italy and Greece both putting forward essentially unity governments that can implement some significant reforms that need to take place in those countries.  But at this point, the larger European community has to stand behind the European project.  And for those American readers or listeners, and those Australian readers or listeners, I think we all understand at this point we’ve got an integrated world economy and what happens in Europe will have an impact on us.

So we are going to continue to advise European leaders on what options we think would meet the threshold where markets would settle down.  It is going to require some tough decisions on their part.  They have made some progress on some fronts — like their efforts to recapitalize the banks.  But ultimately what they’re going to need is a firewall that sends a clear signal:  “We stand behind the European project, and we stand behind the euro.”  And those members of the eurozone, they are going to have the liquidity they need to service their debt.  So there’s more work to do on that front.

And just — I don’t want to steal your question, but I do want to just say, with respect to our budget, there’s a reason why I’m spending this time out here in Asia and out here in the Pacific region.  First and foremost, because this is the fastest-growing economic region in the world, and I want to create jobs in the United States, which means we’ve got to sell products here and invest here and have a robust trading relationship here, and Australia happens to be one of our strongest trading partners.

But the second message I’m trying to send is that we are here to stay.  This is a region of huge strategic importance to us.  And I’ve made very clear, and I’ll amplify in my speech to Parliament tomorrow, that even as we make a whole host of important fiscal decisions back home, this is right up there at the top of my priority list.  And we’re going to make sure that we are able to fulfill our leadership role in the Asia Pacific region.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  And I was just going to make what I think is the common-sense point — I’m not going to issue words of advice about the fiscal position in the United States — but the common-sense point from the point of view of the leader is, ultimately, budgets are about choices and there are hard choices about the things you value.  And I think, by President Obama being here, he is saying he values the role of the United States in this region and our alliance, and that’s what the announcement we’ve made today is all about.

We’ve got a question from Mark Riley from the Australian media.

Q    Thanks, Prime Minister.  Mark Riley from 7News, Australia.  Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about the other rising giant of our region — India — and the Prime Minister might like to add some comments.  How significant is it for the U.S. that Australia is now considering selling uranium to India? And could you clear up for us what influence or encouragement your administration gave Australia as it made that decision?  And also, the decision is so India can produce clean energy.  In that regard, you’re aware that our Parliament has passed a new bill, pricing carbon — a carbon tax, if you like.  But we’re intrigued about where America is going on this issue.

And countries like Australia don’t see a carbon trading system in the world working unless America is a big part of it.  Can you tell us, is it your wish that American will have an emissions trading scheme across the nation within the next five years or so?  How heavily do you want to see America involved in an emissions trading scheme globally, or has this become too politically hard for you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, with respect to India, we have not had any influence, I suspect, on Australia’s decision to explore what its relationship in terms of the peaceful use of nuclear energy in India might be.  I suspect that you’ve got some pretty smart government officials here who figured out that India is a big player, and that the Australia-India relationship is one that should be cultivated.  So I don’t think Julia or anybody else needs my advice in figuring that out.  This is part of your neighborhood, and you are going to make bilateral decisions about how to move forward.

I think without wading into the details, the discussions that are currently taking place here in Australia around that relationship and the nuclear issue with India are ones that are compatible with international law, compatible with decisions that were made in the NPT.  And I will watch with interest what’s determined.  But this is not something between the United States and Australia; this is something between India and Australia.

With respect to carbon emissions, I share the view of your Prime Minister and most scientists in the world that climate change is a real problem and that human activity is contributing to it, and that we all have a responsibility to find ways to reduce our carbon emissions.

Each country is trying to figure out how to do that most effectively.  Here in Australia, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, you’ve moved forward with a bold strategy.  In the United States, although we haven’t passed what we call a cap-and-trade system, an exchange, what we have done is, for example, taken steps to double fuel efficiency standard on cars, which will have an enormous impact on removing carbon from the atmosphere.

We’ve invested heavily in clean energy research.  We believe very strongly that we’ve improved efficiencies and a whole step range of steps that we can meet and the commitments that we made in Copenhagen and Cancun.  And as we move forward over the next several years, my hope is, is that the United States, as one of several countries with a big carbon footprint, can find further ways to reduce our carbon emissions.  I think that’s good for the world.  I actually think, over the long term, it’s good for our economies as well, because it’s my strong belief that industries, utilities, individual consumers — we’re all going to have to adapt how we use energy and how we think about carbon.

Now, another belief that I think the Prime Minister and I share is that the advanced economies can’t do this alone.  So part of our insistence when we are in multilateral forum — and I will continue to insist on this when we go to Durban — is that if we are taking a series of step, then it’s important that emerging economies like China and India are also part of the bargain.  That doesn’t mean that they have to do exactly what we do.  We understand that in terms of per capita carbon emissions, they’ve got a long way to go before they catch up to us.  But it does mean that they’ve got to take seriously their responsibilities as well.

And so, ultimately, what we want is a mechanism whereby all countries are making an effort.  And it’s going to be a tough slog, particularly at a time when the economies are — a lot of economies are still struggling.  But I think it’s actually one that, over the long term, can be beneficial.

Jackie Calmes.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Prime Minister Gillard.  I wanted to double back to the topic of China.  It seems there’s a bit of a schizophrenic aspect to this week of summitry in the Asian Pacific, where China is participating from Hawaii to Indonesia, but then you have all the rest of you who are talking about, on one hand, a trade bloc that excludes China, and now this — and an increased military presence for the United States, which is symbolized most by this agreement the two of you have made for a permanent U.S. presence in Australia.

What is it everyone fears so much from China?  And isn’t there some risk that you would increase tensions in a way that would take some of the — China might take some of the very actions you fear?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I’m happy to start with that and then go to the President.  I don’t — I think there’s actually a theme throughout the work we’ve been involved with at APEC, some of the discussion here and what we will take to the East Asia Summit.  We may be on a journey from saying “aloha” to “good day” to “Bali hai*” or something like that.  But I actually think in terms of a strategic outlook, it remains the same — which is both of our nations deeply engaged with China as it rises and we want to see China rise into the global rules-based order.

That’s our aspiration.  I understand it to be the aspiration of the United States.  It’s something that we pursue bilaterally with China.  It’s something that we pursue multilaterally in the various forums that we work in.

This East Asia Summit will have a particular significance, coming for the first time with the President of the United States there and of course Russia represented around the table, so all of the players with the right mandate to discuss strategic, political and economic questions for our region.

So I actually believe there’s a continuity here:  APEC fundamentally focused on trade and economic liberalization; here in Australia, longtime allies, talking about the future of their alliance and building for that future, as you would expect, but also preparing for a set of discussions in Bali, which will bring us together again with our friends across the region.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just to pick up on this theme, Jackie, I think the notion that we fear China is mistaken.  The notion that we are looking to exclude China is mistaken.  And I’ll take TPP as a perfect example of this.  We haven’t excluded China from the TPP.  What we have said is the future of this region depends on robust trade and commerce, and the only way we’re going to grow that trade is if we have a high-standards trade agreement where everybody is playing by the same rules; where if one set of markets is open then there’s reciprocity among the other trading partners; where there are certain rules that we abide by in terms of intellectual property rights protection or how we deal with government procurement — in addition to the traditional areas like tariffs.

And what we saw in Honolulu, in APEC, was that a number of countries that weren’t part of the initial discussions — like Japan, Canada, Mexico — all expressed an interest in beginning the consultations to be part of this high-standard trade agreement that could potentially be a model for the entire region.

Now, if China says, we want to consult with you about being part of this as well, we welcome that.  It will require China to rethink some of its approaches to trade, just as every other country that’s been involved in the consultations for the TPP have had to think through, all right, what kinds of adjustments are we willing to make?

And so that’s the consistent theme here.  This is a growing region.  It is a vital region.  The United States is going to be a huge participant in both economic and security issues in the Asia Pacific region, and our overriding desire is that we have a clear set of principles that all of us can abide by so that all of us can succeed.  And I think it’s going to be important for China to be a part of that.  I think that’s good for us.

But it’s going to require China, just like all the rest of us, to align our existing policies and what we’ve done in the past with what’s needed for a brighter future.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you.

END
6:43 P.M. AEST

Full Text November 13, 2011: President Barack Obama Holds Press Conference on the APEC Summit’s progress in Hawaii

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Holds a Press Conference at the APEC Summit

 

President Obama makes remarks and takes questions about progress made at the 19th annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leader’s summit.

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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

News Conference by President Obama

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa
Kapolei, Hawaii

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Aloha.  I want to begin by thanking the people of Hawaii for their extraordinary hospitality.  Usually when Michelle and I and our daughters come back to visit, it’s just one President, and this time we brought 21.  So thank you so much for the incredible graciousness of the people of Hawaii — and their patience, because I know that traffic got tied up a little bit.

Now, the single greatest challenge for the United States right now, and my highest priority as President, is creating jobs and putting Americans back to work.  And one of the best ways to do that is to increase our trade and exports with other nations. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers are beyond our borders.  I want them to be buying goods with three words stamped on them:  Made in America.  So I’ve been doing everything I can to make sure that the United States is competing aggressively for the jobs and the markets of the future.

No region will do more to shape our long-term economic future than the Asia Pacific region.  As I’ve said, the United States is, and always will be, a Pacific nation.  Many of our top trading partners are in this region.  This is where we sell most of our exports, supporting some 5 million American jobs.  And since this is the world’s fastest growing region, the Asia Pacific is key to achieving my goal of doubling U.S. exports — a goal, by the way, which we are on track right now to meet.

And that’s why I’ve been proud to host APEC this year.  It’s been a chance to help lead the way towards a more seamless regional economy with more trade, more exports, and more jobs for our people.  And I’m pleased that we’ve made progress in three very important areas.

First, we agreed to a series of steps that will increase trade and bring our economies even closer.  We agreed to a new set of principles on innovation to encourage the entrepreneurship that creates new businesses and new industries.  With simplified customs and exemptions from certain tariffs we’ll encourage more businesses to engage in more trade.  And that includes our small businesses, which account for the vast majority of the companies in our economies.

We agreed to a new initiative that will make it easier and faster for people to travel and conduct business across the region.  And yesterday, I was pleased to sign legislation, a new travel card that will help our American businessmen and women travel more easily and get deals done in this region.

I’d note that we also made a lot of progress increasing trade on the sidelines of APEC.  As I announced yesterday, the United States and our eight partners reached the broad outlines of an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And today I’m pleased that Japan, Canada and Mexico have now expressed an interest in this effort.

This comes on the heels of our landmark trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, which will support tens of thousands of American jobs.

And in my meeting with President Medvedev, we discussed how to move ahead with Russia’s accession to the WTO, which will also mean more exports for American manufacturers and American farmers and ranchers.

Second, APEC agreed on ways to promote the green growth we need for our energy security.  We agreed to reduce tariffs on environmental goods and make it easier to export clean energy technologies that create green jobs.  We raised the bar on ourselves and we’ll aim for even higher energy efficiencies.  And we’re moving ahead with the effort to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.  This would be a huge step toward creating clean energy economies and fighting climate change, which is a threat to both the beauty and the prosperity of the region.

Third, we’re redoubling our efforts to make sure that regulations are encouraging trade and job creation, not discouraging trade and job creation.  And this builds on the work that we’re doing in the United States to get rid of rules and regulations that are unjustified and that are overly burdensome. Our APEC partners are joining us in streamlining and coordinating regulations so that we’re sparking innovation and growth even as we protect public health and our environment.

And finally, since many of the leaders here were also at the recent G20 summit, we continued our efforts to get the global economy to grow faster.  APEC makes up more than half the global economy, and it will continue to play a key role in achieving the strong and balanced growth that we need.

As I’ve said, as the world’s largest economy, the best thing that the United States can do for the global economy is to grow our own economy faster.  And so I will continue to fight for the American Jobs Act so that we can put our people back to work.

I was glad to see that Congress moved forward on one aspect of the jobs bill — tax credits for companies that are hiring veterans.  But we’ve got to do a lot more than that.

So, again, I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their extraordinary hospitality and for all that they’ve done to help make this summit such a success.  I want to thank my fellow leaders for the seriousness and sense of common purpose that they brought to our work.  And I believe that the progress we’ve made here will help create jobs and keep America competitive in a region that is absolutely vital not only for our economy but also for our national security.

So, with that, I’m going to take a few questions.  I’ll start with Ben Feller of AP.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  I’d like to ask you about Iran.  Did you get any specific commitments from Russia or China on tightening sanctions?  Did you move them at all?  And do you fear the world is running out of options short of military intervention to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  One of the striking things over the last three years since I came into office is the degree of unity that we’ve been able to forge in the international community with respect to Iran.  When I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was unified around its nuclear program.  We now have a situation where the world is united and Iran is isolated.  And because of our diplomacy and our efforts, we have, by far, the strongest sanctions on Iran that we’ve ever seen.  And China and Russia were critical to making that happen.  Had they not been willing to support those efforts in the United Nations, we would not be able to see the kind of progress that we’ve made.

And they’re having an impact.  All our intelligence indicates that Iran’s economy is suffering as a consequence of this.  And we’re also seeing that Iran’s influence in the region has ebbed, in part because their approach to repression inside of Iran is contrary to the Arab Spring that has been sweeping the Middle East.

So we are in a much stronger position now than we were two or three years ago with respect to Iran.  Having said that, the recent IAEA report indicates what we already knew, which is, although Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon and is technically still allowing IAEA observers into their country, that they are engaging in a series of practices that are contrary to their international obligations and their IAEA obligations.  And that’s what the IAEA report indicated.

So what I did was to speak with President Medvedev, as well as President Hu, and all three of us entirely agree on the objective, which is making sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power and that we don’t trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.  That’s in the interests of all of us.

In terms of how we move forward, we will be consulting with them carefully over the next several weeks to look at what other options we have available to us.  The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope, and we’re building off the platform that has already been established.  The question is, are there additional measures that we can take.  And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically.

I have said repeatedly and I will say it today, we are not taking any options off the table, because it’s my firm belief that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States.  But our strong preference is to have Iran meet its international obligations, negotiate diplomatically, to allow them to have peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with international law, but at the same time, forswear the weaponization of nuclear power.

And so we’re going to keep on pushing on that.  And China and Russia have the same aims, the same objectives, and I believe that we’ll continue to cooperate and collaborate closely on that issue.

Dan Lothian.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Last night at the Republican debate, some of the hopefuls — they hope to get your job — they defended the practice of waterboarding, which is a practice that you banned in 2009.  Herman Cain said, “I don’t see that as torture.”  Michelle Bachmann said that it’s “very effective.”  So I’m wondering if you think that they’re uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s a multiple-choice question, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)  Let me just say this:  They’re wrong.  Waterboarding is torture.  It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we operate.  We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism.  And we did the right thing by ending that practice.

If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example.  And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture.  And that’s not something we do — period.

Norah O’Donnell.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  If I could continue on that, the Republicans did have a debate on CBS last night.  A lot of it was about foreign policy, and they were very critical of your record —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s shocking.  (Laughter.)

Q    So if I could get you to respond to something that Mitt Romney said.  He said your biggest foreign policy failure is Iran.  He said that if you are reelected Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  Is Mitt Romney wrong?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I am going to make a practice of not commenting on whatever is said in Republican debates until they’ve got an actual nominee.  But as I indicated to Ben in the earlier question, you take a look at what we’ve been able to accomplish in mobilizing the world community against Iran over the last three years and it shows steady, determined, firm progress in isolating the Iranian regime, and sending a clear message that the world believes it would be dangerous for them to have a nuclear weapon.

Now, is this an easy issue?  No.  Anybody who claims it is, is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. But I think not only the world, but the Iranian regime understands very clearly how determined we are to prevent not only a nuclear Iran but also a nuclear arms race in the region, and a violation of nonproliferation norms that would have implications around the world, including in the Asia Pacific region where we have similar problems with North Korea.

David Nakamura.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Yesterday in a speech before business leaders, you said that you want China to play by the rules.  And then your staff later said that, in a bilateral meeting with President Hu, that you expressed that American business leaders are growing frustrated with the pace of change in China’s economy.  What rules is China not playing by?  What specific steps do you need to see from China?  And what punitive actions is your administration willing to take, as you said it would yesterday, if China does not play by the rules?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, I also said yesterday that we welcome the peaceful rise of China.  It is in America’s interests to see China succeed in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  China can be a source of stability and help to underwrite international norms and codes of conduct.

And so what we’ve done over the last two years is to try to develop a frank, consistent, open relationship and dialogue with China, and it’s yielded considerable benefits — for example, support for issues like Iran.  But what I’ve also said to Chinese leadership since I came into office is that when it comes to their economic practices, there are a range of things that they have done that disadvantage not just the United States but a whole host of their trading partners and countries in the region.

The most famous example is the issue of China’s currency.  Most economists estimate that the RMB is devalued by 20 to 25 percent.  That means our exports to China are that much more expensive, and their imports into the United States are that much cheaper.  Now, there’s been slight improvement over the last year, partly because of U.S. pressure, but it hasn’t been enough. And it’s time for them to go ahead and move towards a market-based system for their currency.

We recognize they may not be able to do it overnight, but they can do it much more quickly than they’ve done it so far.  And, by the way, that would not necessarily be a bad thing for the Chinese economy, because they’ve been so focused on export-driven growth that they’ve neglected domestic consumption, building up domestic markets.  It makes them much more vulnerable to shocks in the global economy.  It throws the whole world economy out of balance because they’re not buying as much as they could be from other countries.

And this is not something that’s inconsistent with where Chinese leadership say they want to go.  The problem is, is that you’ve got a bunch of export producers in China who like the system as it is, and making changes are difficult for them politically.  I get it.  But the United States and other countries, I think understandably, feel that enough is enough.

That’s not the only concern we have.  Intellectual property rights and protections — companies that do business in China consistently report problems in terms of intellectual property not being protected.  Now, that’s particularly important for an advanced economy like ours, where that’s one of our competitive advantages, is we’ve got great engineers, great entrepreneurs, we’re designing extraordinary new products.  And if they get no protection and the next thing you know China is operating as a low-cost producer and not paying any fees or revenues to folks who invented these products, that’s a problem.

So those are two examples, but there are a number of others. These practices aren’t secret.  I think everybody understands that they’ve been going on for quite some time.  Sometimes, American companies are wary about bringing them up because they don’t want to be punished in terms of their ability to do business in China.  But I don’t have that same concern, so I bring it up.

And in terms of enforcement, the other thing that we’ve been doing is actually trying to enforce the trade laws that are in place.  We’ve brought a number of cases — one that the U.S. press may be familiar with are the cases involving U.S. tires, where we brought very aggressive actions against China and won.  And as a consequence, U.S. producers are in a better position, and that means more U.S. jobs.

So I think we can benefit from trade with China.  And I want certainly to continue cultivating a constructive relationship with the Chinese government, but we’re going to continue to be firm in insisting that they operate by the same rules that everybody else operates under.  We don’t want them taking advantage of the United States or U.S. businesses.

Jake Tapper.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The other day you told ESPN that the scandal at Penn State — which you said was heartbreaking — should prompt some soul-searching throughout the nation.  I’m wondering if you could elaborate on that, what exactly you meant and — I know you’re a big fan of college sports — if this something you think that is an indictment not just of what happened at Penn State, allegedly, but how athletics are revered in universities.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think that’s the kind of soul-searching that I was referring to, Jake.  You’re right, I’m a big college sports fan.  I think that when it’s kept in perspective, college athletics not only provides a great outlet for competition for our young people, but helps to bring a sense of community and can help to brand a university in a way that is fun and important.  But what happened at Penn State indicates that at a certain point, folks start thinking about systems and institutions and don’t think about individuals.  And when you think about how vulnerable kids are, for the alleged facts of that case to have taken place and for folks not to immediately say, nothing else matters except making sure those kids are protected, that’s a problem.

It’s not unique to a college sports environment.  I mean, we’ve seen problems in other institutions that are equally heartbreaking.  Not all of them involve children, by the way.  There have been problems, obviously, with respect to sexual abuse or assault directed against women, where institutions sort of closed ranks instead of getting on top of it right away.  And that’s why I said I think all institutions, not just universities or sports programs, have to step back and take stock, and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect people who may be vulnerable in these circumstances, but also just keep in mind what’s important — making sure that our excitement about a college sports program doesn’t get in the way of our basic human response when somebody is being hurt.

And it’s been said that evil can thrive in the world just by good people standing by and doing nothing.  And all of us I think have occasion where we see something that’s wrong, we’ve got to make sure that we step up.  That’s true in college athletics.  That’s true in our government.  That’s true everywhere.

Julianna Goldman.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  In conversations that you’ve had over the past couple of days with Asia Pacific leaders, have any of them brought up the rhetoric that we’re seeing from Republican presidential candidates when it comes to China?  And does that kind of rhetoric or posturing jeopardize the progress that your administration has made with China and the Asia Pacific region as a whole?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think most leaders here understand that politics is not always measured or on the level, and so most of our discussions have to do with substance:  How do we put our people back to work right now?  How do we expand trade?  How do we expand exports?

I’ve been very frank with Chinese leaders, though, in saying that the American people across the board — left, right and center — believe in trade, believe in competition.  We think we’ve got the best workers in the world.  We think we’ve got the best universities, the best entrepreneurs, the best free market. We’re ready to go out there and compete with anybody.  But there is a concern across the political spectrum that the playing field is not level right now.

And so, in conversations with President Hu and others, what I’ve tried to say is we have the opportunity to move in a direction in which this is a win-win:  China is benefiting from trade with the United States; the United States is benefiting as well.  Jobs are being created in the United States and not just in China.  But right now things are out of kilter.  And that is something that is shared across the board, as we saw with the recent vote on the Chinese currency issue in the Senate.

And I think leaders in the region understand that as China grows, as its economic influence expands, that the expectation is, is that they will be a responsible leader in the world economy — which is what the United States has tried to do.  I mean, we try to set up rules that are universal, that everybody can follow, and then we play by those rules.  And then we compete fiercely.  But we don’t try to game the system.  That’s part of what leadership is about.

China has the opportunity to be that same type of leader.  And as the world’s second-largest economy, I think that’s going to be important not just for this region, but for the world.  But that requires them to take responsibility, to understand that their role is different now than it might have been 20 years ago or 30 years ago, where if they were breaking some rules, it didn’t really matter, it did not have a significant impact.  You weren’t seeing huge trade imbalances that had consequences for the world financial system.

Now they’ve grown up, and so they’re going to have to help manage this process in a responsible way.

Laura Meckler.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Why did you get rid of the aloha shirts and the grass skirts?  (Laughter.)  Are you at all concerned that it not appear that you’re having a party over here while so many people are living with such a tough economy?  And I’m wondering if those perceptions were at all on your mind as you were making plans for this trip, which, by necessity, takes you to some pretty exotic and fun locations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I got rid of the Hawaiian shirts because I had looked at pictures of some of the previous APEC meetings and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought this may be a tradition that we might want to break.  I suggested to the leaders — we gave them a shirt, and if they wanted to wear the shirt, I promise you it would have been fine.  But I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about us breaking precedent on that one.

With respect to this trip, look, this is a pretty nice piece of scenery here and I take enormous pride in having been raised in the state of Hawaii, but we’re here for business.  We’re here to create jobs.  We’re here to promote exports.  And we’ve got a set of tangible, concrete steps that have been taken that are going to make our economy stronger, and that’s part of what our leadership has been about.

When I went to Europe last week, our job was to help shape a solution for the European crisis.  And a lot of folks back home might have wondered, well, that’s Europe’s problem; why are we worrying about it?  Well, if Europe has a major recession, and the financial system in Europe starts spinning out of control, that will have a direct impact on U.S. growth and our ability to create jobs and people raising their living standards.

The same is true out here.  If we’re not playing out here in the world’s largest regional economy and the world’s fastest regional economy, if we’ve abandoned the field and we’re not engaged, American businesses will lose out and those jobs won’t be in the United States of America.

So part of my job is to make sure that the rules of the road are set up so that our folks can compete effectively.  Part of my job is to sell America and our products and our services around the world, and I think we’ve done so very effectively.

And as I said, just to take the example of exports, we’re on track to double our exports since I came into office.  That was a goal I set, and we’re on track to meet it.  That’s actually been one of the stronger parts of our economic growth over the last couple of years.  And I want to make sure that we keep on driving that.

Chuck Todd.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The Republican co-chair of the super committee, Jeb Hensarling, went on TV today and said if the sequester happens — this idea of the automatic cuts in Medicare and defense — that there was plenty of motivation and plenty of votes to change the makeup of these automatic cuts.

I know you had a conversation with him about this and said that changing it in any way was off the table, that means you’re going to veto this bill, if that’s the case, if it ends up they can’t get a deal in the next 10 days.

And then, can you clarify your end of the “hot mic” conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as it involved Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Could I just say that Chuck is the only guy who asked two questions — so far.  So just — when I cut off here, whoever was next in the queue — I’m messing with you, Chuck.

With respect to the super committee, in August we negotiated to initiate a trillion dollars in cuts over the next 10 years — primarily out of discretionary spending — but we also said that in order for us to move towards a more stable fiscal condition that we’re going to have to get an additional $1.2 trillion — minimum.  I actually argued that we needed more than that.  And the whole idea of the sequester was to make sure that both sides felt obligated to move off rigid positions and do what was required to help the country.

And since that time, they’ve had a lot of conversations, but it feels as if people continue to try to stick with their rigid positions rather than solve the problem.

Now, I’ve put forward a very detailed approach that would achieve $3 trillion-plus in savings.  And it’s the sort of balanced approach that the American people prefer.  It says everything is on the table.  We’ve got to have discretionary spending cuts of the sort we’ve already put in place.  We’ve got to have non-defense cuts.  We’ve got to have defense cuts.  We’re going to have to look at entitlement programs.  We’ve got to reduce our health care costs.  And we’re going to need additional revenue.

And when we’re talking about revenue, if we’ve got to raise money, it makes sense for us to start by asking the wealthiest among us to pay a little bit more before we start asking seniors, for example, to pay a lot more for their Medicare.

Now, this is the same presentation that I made to Speaker Boehner back in August.  It’s the same kind of balanced approach that every single independent committee that’s looked at this has said needs to be done.  And it just feels as if people keep on wanting to jigger the math so that they get a different outcome.

Well, the equation, no matter how you do it, is going to be the same.  If you want a balanced approach that doesn’t gut Medicare and Medicaid, doesn’t prevent us from making investments in education and basic science and research — all the things we’ve been talking about here at APEC, that every world leader understands is the key for long-term economic success — then prudent cuts have to be matched up with revenue.

My hope is that over the next several days, the congressional leadership on the super committee go ahead and bite the bullet and do what needs to be done — because the math won’t change.  There’s no magic formula.  There are no magic beans that you can toss on the ground and suddenly a bunch of money grows on trees.  We got to just go ahead and do the responsible thing.  And I’m prepared to sign legislation that is balanced, that solves this problem.

One other thing that I want to say about this:  When I meet with world leaders, what’s striking — whether it’s in Europe or here in Asia — the kinds of fundamental reforms and changes both on the revenue side and the public pension side that other countries are having to make are so much more significant than what we need to do in order to get our books in order.

This doesn’t require radical changes to America or its way of life.  It just means that we spread out the sacrifice across every sector so that it’s fair; so that people don’t feel as if once again people who are well connected, people who have lobbyists, special interests get off easy, and the burden is placed on middle-class families that are already struggling.  So if other countries can do it, we can do it — and we can do it in a responsible way.

I’m not going to comment on whether I’d veto a particular bill until I actually see a bill, because I still hold out the prospect that there’s going to be a light-bulb moment where everybody says “Ah-ha! Here’s what we’ve got to do.”

With respect to the “hot mic” in France, I’m not going to comment on conversations that I have with individual leaders, but what I will say is this:  The primary conversation I had with President Sarkozy in that meeting revolved around my significant disappointment that France had voted in favor of the Palestinians joining UNESCO, knowing full well that under our laws, that would require the United States cutting off funding to UNESCO, and after I had consistently made the argument that the only way we’re going to solve the Middle East situation is if Palestinians and Israelis sit down at the table and negotiate; that it is not going to work to try to do an end run through the United Nations.

So I had a very frank and firm conversation with President Sarkozy about that issue.  And that is consistent with both private and public statements that I’ve been making to everybody over the last several months.

Ed Henry.

Q    Mr. President, I have three questions — (laughter) — starting with Mitt Romney.  Just one question, I promise.  (Laughter.)

You started with a $447-billion jobs bill.  Two months later, many speeches later, you’ve got virtually nothing from that.  You’ve got the veterans jobs bill — which is important, obviously — and a lot of executive orders.  Are you coming to the realization that you may just get nothing here and go to the American people in 2012 without another jobs bill, 9 percent unemployment, and then wondering about your leadership, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think — I think, first of all, the American people, at this point, are wondering about congressional leadership in failing to pass the jobs bill, the components of which the majority of Americans, including many Republicans, think are a good idea.

And that’s part of the reason why the American people right now aren’t feeling real good about Congress.  Normally, by the way, the way politics works is if the overwhelming majority of the American people aren’t happy with what you’re doing you start doing something different.  So far that hasn’t happened in Congress — and the Republicans in Congress, in particular.  They don’t seem to have that same sense of urgency about needing to put people back to work.

I’m going to keep on pushing.  My expectation is, is that we will get some of it done now, and I’ll keep on pushing until we get all of it done.  And that may take me all the way to November to get it all done.  And it may take a new Congress to get it all done.  But the component parts — cutting taxes for middle-class families, cutting taxes for small businesses that are hiring our veterans and hiring the long-term unemployed, putting teachers back in the classroom — here in the state of Hawaii, you have a bunch of kids who are going to school four days a week because of budget problems.  How are we going to win the competition in the 21st century with our kids going to school basically halftime?
The jobs bill would help alleviate those budget pressures at the state level.

Rebuilding our infrastructure.  Every world leader that you talk to, they’re saying to themselves, how can we make sure we’ve got a first-class infrastructure?  And as you travel through the Asia Pacific region, you see China having better airports than us, Singapore having superior ports to ours.  Well, that’s going to impact our capacity to do business here, our capacity to trade, our capacity to get U.S. products made by U.S. workers into the fastest-growing market in the world.  And by the way, we could put a lot of people back to work at the same time.

So I’m going to keep on pushing.  And my expectation is, is that we will just keep on chipping away at this.  If you’re asking me do I anticipate that the Republican leadership in the House or the Senate suddenly decide that I was right all along and they will adopt a hundred percent of my proposals, the answer is, no, I don’t expect that.  Do I anticipate that at some point they recognize that doing nothing is not an option?  That’s my hope.  And that should be their hope, too, because if they don’t, I think we’ll have a different set of leaders in Congress.

All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

END
5:50 P.M. HAST

Full Text November 12-13, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC Summit in Hawaii

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Source: WH, 11-13-11
President Barack Obama meets with the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the APEC

President Barack Obama attends a meeting with the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. At left is Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, and right is U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, President Obama kicked off the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers and Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.  In the morning, the President met with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

President Obama announced in November 2009 the United States’ intention to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to conclude an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values.  This agreement will boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs at home by increasing American exports to a region that includes some of the world’s most robust economies and that represents more than 40 percent of global trade.

As the President noted yesterday:

We just had an excellent meeting, and I’m very pleased to announce that our nine nations have reached the broad outlines of an agreement.  There are still plenty of details to work out, but we are confident that we can do so.  So we’ve directed our teams to finalize this agreement in the coming year.  It is an ambitious goal, but we are optimistic that we can get it done.

The TPP will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people, which is my number-one priority.  Along with our trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, the TPP will also help achieve my goal of doubling U.S. exports, which support millions of American jobs.

Later in the day, President Obama participated in an APEC CEO Business summit, including a question and answer session with Boeing CEO, Jim McNerney.

President Barack Obama answers a question at the APEC CEO business summit

President Barack Obama, with Boeing CEO James McHenry, Jr., answers a question at the APEC CEO business summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the afternoon, President Obama hosted bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Noda of Japan, President Medvedev of Russia and President Hu of China.

Prime Minster Noda expressed Japan’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, with President Obama welcoming and encouraging Japan’s interest in the TPP agreement, noting that eliminating the barriers to trade between our two countries could provide an historic opportunity to deepen our economic relationship, as well as strengthen Japan’s ties with some of its closest partners in the region.

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Next, President Obama met with President Medvedev of Russia, where they had a wide-ranging discussion, in particular focusing on a number of security issues where the U.S. and Russia had significant interested.  This included Afghanistan, and the importance of all regional parties assisting the Afghan government in stabilizing the country for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as Iran and its nuclear program.  President Obama also made an important announcement:

Although it’s not official yet, the invitation has been extended to Russia to join the WTO, as a testament to the hard work of President Medvedev and his team.  We believe this is going to be good for the United States, for the world, as well as for Russia, because it will provide increased opportunities for markets in which we can sell goods and products and services, as well as purchase good, products and services without some of the traditional barriers.

Finally, President Obama met with President Hu of China.  He noted that cooperation between the world’s two of the largest countries and largest economies was vital not only to the security and prosperity of our own people, but also vital to the world.

President Obama continued:

Such cooperation is particularly important to the Asia Pacific region, where both China and the United States are extraordinarily active.  We are both Pacific powers.  And I think many countries in the region look to a constructive relationship between the United States and China as a basis for continued growth and prosperity.

Lastly, in the evening the President and the First Lady welcomed APEC leaders and their spouses for a dinner and reception followed by a cultural performance at the Hale Koa Hotel in Hawaii.

Leaders and their spouses watch cultural performance at the APEC summit

Leaders and their spouses watch a hula performance at the APEC summit at the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES










Full Text November 11, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Carrier Classic Basketball Game

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and the First Lady ended Veterans Day aboard the USS Carl Vinson where they watched the first-ever Carrier Classic

President Obama and Michelle Obama Attend Carrier Classic on veterans day

White House Photo, Pete Souza

President Obama Attends the Carrier Classic

Source: WH, 11-12-11

[View full size slideshow here]
President Obama and the First Lady ended Veterans Day aboard the USS Carl Vinson where they watched the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team defeat Michigan State University in the first-ever Carrier Classic.

More than 8,000 people were in the stands on the flight deck of the 95,000-ton, Nimitz-class ship — most of them uniformed military personnel. As much as the President loves a good game of basketball, he made a point to say that the real reason for the event was to celebrate the members of the U.S. armed forces and their families and ensure that our nation does right by its heroes:

This week,  throughout the week, we’ve been celebrating our veterans, but we have to turn our words into action. And so what we’ve done is make sure that Congress passed legislation that makes it a little bit easier for businesses to hire our veterans. We’ve put in place a series of reforms to help veterans, make sure they get the counseling and the job placement that they need.

The First Lady along with Dr. Jill Biden have put together something called Joining Forces that has now gotten commitments — 100,000 jobs for veterans and military spouses all across the country. And we are grateful for them for that effort.

But every American citizen can make a solemn pledge today that they will find some opportunity to provide support to our troops, to those who are still active duty, to our National Guard, to our Reservists, and to our veterans.

Read the President’s full remarks from the game here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President Aboard the USS Carl Vinson

USS Carl Vinson
San Diego, California

4:10 P.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  How you feeling tonight? (Applause.)  We are so fortunate to be able to witness two of the greatest basketball programs in history — (applause) — Michigan State Spartans, North Carolina Tar Heels.  (Applause.)  Two of the best coaches of all time — Coach Izzo, Coach Williams.  (Applause.)  So we are proud to be here and see a great sporting event.

But the main reason we’re here is, on Veterans Day, we have an opportunity to say thank you.  One of the greatest privileges of this job, and one of the greatest responsibilities of this job, is to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.  And I can tell you that every day when I interact with our military, every day when I interact with the men and women in uniform, I could not be prouder to be an American.  (Applause.)

And that gratitude that we have for our men and women of the Armed Forces does not stop when they take off the uniform.  When they come home, part of the long line of those who defended our freedom, we have a sacred trust to make sure that they understand how much we appreciate what they do.  And that’s not just on Veterans Day.  That is every day of every year where we salute them and we say thank you for making the sacrifices, and for their families’ sacrifices, on our behalf.  (Applause.)

This week, throughout the week, we’ve been celebrating our veterans, but we have to turn our words into action.  And so what we’ve done is make sure that Congress passed legislation that makes it a little bit easier for businesses to hire our veterans. (Applause.)  We’ve put in place a series of reforms to help veterans, make sure they get the counseling and the job placement that they need.

The First Lady along with Dr. Jill Biden have put together something called Joining Forces that has now gotten commitments  — 100,000 jobs for veterans and military spouses all across the country.  And we are grateful for them for that effort.  (Applause.)

But every American citizen can make a solemn pledge today that they will find some opportunity to provide support to our troops, to those who are still active duty, to our National Guard, to our Reservists, and to our veterans.

And it’s especially appropriate that we do it here, because the USS Carl Vinson has been a messenger of diplomacy and a protector of our security for a long time.  And the men and women who serve on this ship have done extraordinary service in the Pacific, in the Persian Gulf, in the Indian Ocean.  It was from this aircraft carrier that some of the first assaults on Iraq were launched.  This ship supports what’s happening in Afghanistan.

I think some of you may know because it’s been reported that the men and women on the Carl Vinson were part of that critical mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.  (Applause.)

So to all our veterans, to all our men and women in uniform, we say thank you.  And we want you to know that we are committed to making sure that we serve you as well as you have always served us.  Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
4:15 P.M. PST

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