Full Text Obama Presidency September 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President to the Clinton Global Initiative

Source: WH, 9-25-12

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers
New York, New York

12:34 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Well, good afternoon, everybody.  And, President Clinton, thank you for your very kind introduction.  Although I have to admit, I really did like the speech a few weeks ago a little bit better.  (Laughter.)  Afterwards, somebody tweeted that somebody needs to make him “Secretary of Explaining Things.”  (Laughter.) Although they didn’t use the word, “things.”  (Laughter.)

President Clinton, you are a tireless, passionate advocate on behalf of what’s best in our country.  You have helped to improve and save the lives of millions of people around the world.  I am grateful for your friendship and your extraordinary leadership.  And I think I speak for the entire country when we say that you continue to be a great treasure for all of us.  (Applause.)

As always, I also have to thank President Clinton for being so understanding with the record-breaking number of countries visited by our Secretary of State.  (Laughter and applause.)  As we’ve seen again in recent days, Hillary Clinton is a leader of grace and grit — and I believe she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in American history.  So we are grateful to her.  (Applause.)

To the dedicated CGI staff and every organization that’s made commitments and touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people, thank you for being an example of what we need more of in the world, especially in Washington — working together to actually solve problems.

And that’s why I’m here.  As Bill mentioned, I’ve come to CGI every year that I’ve been President, and I’ve talked with you about how we need to sustain the economic recovery, how we need to create more jobs.  I’ve talked about the importance of development — from global health to our fight against HIV/AIDS to the growth that lifts nations to prosperity.  We’ve talked about development and how it has to include women and girls — because by every benchmark, nations that educate their women and girls end up being more successful.  (Applause.)

And today, I want to discuss an issue that relates to each of these challenges.  It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.  (Applause.)

Now, I do not use that word, “slavery” lightly.  It evokes obviously one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history.  But around the world, there’s no denying the awful reality.  When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery.  When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.

When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery.  When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery.  It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.  (Applause.)

Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty.  Just a few days ago, we marked the 150th anniversary of a document that I have hanging in the Oval Office — the Emancipation Proclamation.  With the advance of Union forces, it brought a new day — that “all persons held as slaves” would thenceforth be forever free.  We wrote that promise into our Constitution.  We spent decades struggling to make it real.  We joined with other nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that “slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

A global movement was sparked, with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act — signed by President Clinton and carried on by President Bush.

And here at CGI, you’ve made impressive commitments in this fight.  We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives — and, at times, risk their lives — to liberate victims and help them recover.  This includes men and women of faith, who, like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work — evangelicals, the Catholic Church, International Justice Mission and World Relief, even individual congregations, like Passion City Church in Atlanta, and so many young people of faith who’ve decided that their conscience compels them to act in the face of injustice.  Groups like these are answering the Bible’s call — to “seek justice” and “rescue the oppressed.”  Some of them join us today, and we are grateful for your leadership.

Now, as President, I’ve made it clear that the United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement.  We’ve got a comprehensive strategy.  We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists.  Under Hillary’s leadership, we’re doing more than ever — with our annual trafficking report, with new outreach and partnerships — to give countries incentives to meet their responsibilities and calling them out when they don’t.

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea.  We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws.

Last week I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office not only a great champion of democracy but a fierce advocate against the use of forced labor and child soldiers — Aung San Suu Kyi.  (Applause.)  And as part of our engagement, we’ll encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform — because nations must speak with one voice:  Our people and our children are not for sale.

But for all the progress that we’ve made, the bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here, in the United States.  It’s the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker.  The man, lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken, and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen.  The teenage girl, beaten, forced to walk the streets.  This should not be happening in the United States of America.

As President, I directed my administration to step up our efforts — and we have.  For the first time, at Hillary’s direction, our annual trafficking report now includes the United States, because we can’t ask other nations to do what we are not doing ourselves.  (Applause.)  We’ve expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI.  The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks.  We’ve strengthened protections so that foreign-born workers know their rights.

And most of all, we’re going after the traffickers.  New anti-trafficking teams are dismantling their networks.  Last year, we charged a record number of these predators with human trafficking.  We’re putting them where they belong — behind bars.  (Applause.)

But with more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world — think about that, more than 20 million — they’ve got a lot more to do.  And that’s why, earlier this year, I directed my administration to increase our efforts.  And today, I can announce a series of additional steps that we’re going to take.

First, we’re going to do more to spot it and stop it.  We’ll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem.  We’ll strengthen training, so investigators and law enforcement are even better equipped to take action — and treat victims as victims, not as criminals.  (Applause.)  We’re going to work with Amtrak, and bus and truck inspectors, so that they’re on the lookout.  We’ll help teachers and educators spot the signs as well, and better serve those who are vulnerable, especially our young people.

Second, we’re turning the tables on the traffickers.  Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we’re going to harness technology to stop them.  We’re encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement — and we’re also challenging college students — to develop tools that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smart phones.

Third, we’ll do even more to help victims recover and rebuild their lives.  We’ll develop a new action plan to improve coordination across the federal government.  We’re increasing access to services to help survivors become self-sufficient.  We’re working to simplify visa procedures for “T” visas so that innocent victims from other countries can stay here as they help us prosecute their traffickers.

This coming year, my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will make the fight against human trafficking a focus of its work.  (Applause.)  They’re doing great work.  And I’m also proud to announce a new partnership with Humanity United, which is a leader in anti-trafficking — a multi-million dollar challenge to local communities to find new ways to care for trafficking victims.  And I want to thank Johns Hopkins University, which will be focusing on how to best care for child victims.  (Applause.)

Now, finally, as one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the world, the United States government will lead by example.  We’ve already taken steps to make sure our contractors do not engage in forced labor.  And today we’re going to go  further.  I’ve signed a new executive order that raises the bar. It’s specific about the prohibitions.  It does more to protect workers.  It ensures stronger compliance.   In short, we’re making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings.  We will have zero tolerance.  We mean what we say.  We will enforce it.  (Applause.)

Of course, no government, no nation, can meet this challenge alone.  Everybody has a responsibility.  Every nation can take action.  Modern anti-trafficking laws must be passed and enforced and justice systems must be strengthened.  Victims must be cared for.  So here in the United States, Congress should renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, Democrat or Republican, this is a no-brainer.  This is something we should all agree on.  We need to get that done.

And more broadly, as nations, let’s recommit to addressing the underlying forces that push so many into bondage in the first place.  With development and economic growth that creates legitimate jobs, there’s less likelihood of indentured servitude around the globe.  A sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, that has to be burned into the cultures of every country.  A commitment to equality — as in the Equal Futures Partnership that we launched with other nations yesterday so societies empower our sisters and our daughters just as much as our brothers and sons.  (Applause.)

And every business can take action.  All the business leaders who are here and our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor.  (Applause.)  The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards.  And today, I want to salute the new commitments that are being made.  That includes the new Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking — companies that are sending a message:  Human trafficking is not a business model, it is a crime, and we are going to stop it.  We’re proud of them.  (Applause.)

Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed.  And like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can’t just pass by, indifferent.  We’ve got to be moved by compassion.  We’ve got to bind up the wounds.  Let’s come together around a simple truth — that we are our brother’s keepers and we are our sister’s keepers.

And finally, every citizen can take action:  by learning more; by going to the website that we helped create — SlaveryFootprint.org; by speaking up and insisting that the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy are made free of forced labor; by standing up against the degradation and abuse of women.

That’s how real change happens — from the bottom up.  And if you doubt that, ask Marie Godet Niyonyota, from the Congo.  Think about Marie’s story.  She was kidnapped by rebels, turned into a slave.  She was abused — physically and sexually.  They got her pregnant five times.  In one awful battle, her children were killed — all five of them.  Miraculously, she survived and escaped.  And with care and support, she began to heal.  And she learned to read and write and sew, and today Marie is back home, working toward a new future.

Or ask Ima Matul.  She grew up in Indonesia, and at 17 was given the opportunity to work as a nanny here in the United States.  But when she arrived, it turned out to be a nightmare.  Cooking, cleaning — 18-hour days, seven days a week.  One beating was so bad it sent her to the emergency room.  And finally, she escaped.  And with the help from a group that cared, today Ima has a stable job.  She’s an advocate — she’s even testified before Congress.

Or ask Sheila White, who grew up in the Bronx.  Fleeing an abusive home, she fell in with a guy who said he’d protect her.  Instead, he sold her — just 15 years old — 15 — to men who raped her and beat her, and burned her with irons.  And finally, after years — with the help of a non-profit led by other survivors — she found the courage to break free and get the services she needed.  Sheila earned her GED.  Today she is a powerful, fierce advocate who helped to pass a new anti-trafficking law right here in New York.  (Applause.)

These women endured unspeakable horror.  But in their unbreakable will, in their courage, in their resilience, they remind us that this cycle can be broken; victims can become not only survivors, they can become leaders and advocates, and bring about change.

And I just met Ima and Sheila and several of their fellow advocates, and I have to tell you they are an incredible inspiration.  They are here — they’ve chosen to tell their stories.  I want them to stand and be recognized because they are inspiring all of us.  Please — Sheila, Ima.  (Applause.)

To Ima and Sheila, and each of you — in the darkest hours of your lives, you may have felt utterly alone, and it seemed like nobody cared.  And the important thing for us to understand is there are millions around the world who are feeling that same way at this very moment.

Right now, there is a man on a boat, casting the net with his bleeding hands, knowing he deserves a better life, a life of dignity, but doesn’t know if anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there’s a woman, hunched over a sewing machine, glancing beyond the bars on the window, knowing if just given the chance, she might some day sell her own wares, but she doesn’t think anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there’s a young boy, in a brick factory, covered in dust, hauling his heavy load under a blazing sun, thinking if he could just go to school, he might know a different future, but he doesn’t think anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there is a girl, somewhere trapped in a brothel, crying herself to sleep again, and maybe daring to imagine that some day, just maybe, she might be treated not like a piece of property, but as a human being.

And so our message today, to them, is — to the millions around the world — we see you.  We hear you.  We insist on your dignity.  And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams.  (Applause.)

Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it — in partnership with you.  The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past.  For we know that every life saved — in the words of that great Proclamation — is “an act of justice,” worthy of “the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

That’s what we believe.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  And I’m so proud to be in partnership with CGI to make this happen.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
12:57 P.M. EDT

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Full Text Campaign Buzz September 25, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Jokes He’s Waiting for His Clinton ‘Bounce’

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-25-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Speaking just hours before President Obama takes the same stage, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined his vision for foreign aid Tuesday at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

The governor and former President Bill Clinton took the stage together, after which Clinton delivered complimentary remarks praising Romney’s support for the City Year service group when he was governor….READ MORE

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks To The Clinton Global Initiative

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-25-12

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, New York. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. President.  I appreciate the kind words and your invitation here today.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this election season, it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do any man a lot of good.  After that introduction, I guess all I have to do is wait a day or two for the bounce.

Since serving as President here in America, President Clinton has devoted himself to lifting the downtrodden around the world.  One of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate.  That is how needy and neglected causes have become global initiatives. It is that work that invites us here today.

As I have watched the astounding impact of this Initiative from afar, I have been impressed by the extraordinary power you have derived by harnessing together different people of different backgrounds, and different institutions of different persuasions. You have fashioned partnerships across traditional boundaries — public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, charitable and commercial.

On a smaller scale, I have seen partnerships like this work before. In Massachusetts, two social pioneers brought corporations and government and volunteers together to form City Year, the model for Americorps. I sat with then-candidate for President Bill Clinton as he investigated the life-changing successes which occurred when young people came together for a year of service, linked in teams with corporate sponsors.  Then, as the head of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, I saw again the stunning success that comes when the disparate elements of a community join together in unity, to overcome challenges that had seemed insurmountable before.

The Clinton Global Initiative has also demonstrated the effectiveness of entrepreneurship and social enterprise.  You endeavor to not only comfort the afflicted, but to also change lives thorough freedom, free enterprise, and the incomparable dignity of work.

Free enterprise has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system not only because it is the only system that creates a prosperous middle class, but also because it is the only system where the individual enjoys the freedom to guide and build his or her own life. Free enterprise cannot only make us better off financially, it can make us better people.

Ours is a compassionate nation. We look around us and see withering suffering. Our hearts break.  While we make up just 4.5 percent of the world’s population, we donate nearly a quarter of all global foreign aid—more than twice as much as any other country.  And Americans give more than money.  Pastors like Rick Warren lead mission trips that send thousands of Americans around the world, bringing aid and comfort to the poorest places on the planet.  American troops are first on the scene of natural disasters.  An earthquake strikes Haiti and care packages from America are among the first to arrive – and not far behind are former Presidents Clinton and Bush.

But too often our passion for charity is tempered by our sense that our aid is not always effective. We see stories of cases where American aid has been diverted to corrupt governments. We wonder why years of aid and relief seem never to extinguish the hardship, why the suffering persists decade after decade.

Perhaps some of our disappointments are due to our failure to recognize just how much the developing world has changed.  Many of our foreign aid efforts were designed at a time when government development assistance accounted for roughly 70 percent of all resources flowing to developing nations.  Today, 82 percent of the resources flowing into the developing world come from the private sector. If foreign aid can leverage this massive investment by private enterprise, it may exponentially expand the ability to not only care for those who suffer, but also to change lives.

Private enterprise is having a greater and greater positive impact in the developing world. The John Deere Company embarked upon a pilot project in Africa where it developed a suite of farm tools that could be attached to a very small tractor.  John Deere has also worked to expand the availability of capital to farmers so they can maintain and develop their businesses.  The result has been a good investment for John Deere and greater opportunity for African farmers, who are now able to grow more crops, and to provide for more plentiful lives.

For American foreign aid to become more effective, it must embrace the power of partnerships, access the transformative nature of free enterprise, and leverage the abundant resources that can come from the private sector.

There are three, quite legitimate, objects of our foreign aid.

First, to address humanitarian need.  Such is the case with the PEPFAR initiative, which has given medical treatment to millions suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Second, to foster a substantial United States strategic interest, be it military, diplomatic, or economic.

And there is a third purpose, one that will receive more attention and a much higher priority in a Romney Administration. And that is aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.

Many Americans are troubled by the developments in the Middle East. Syria has witnessed the killing of tens of thousands of people. The president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our Ambassador to Libya was assassinated in a terrorist attack.  And Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability. We feel that we are at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events.

I am often asked why, and what can we do to lead the Middle East to stability, to ease the suffering and the anger and the hate.

Religious extremism is certainly part of the problem.  But that’s not the whole story.

The population of the Middle East is young, particularly compared with the population of the West. And typically, these young people have few job prospects and the levels of youth unemployment across the region are excessive and chronic.  In nations that have undergone a change in leadership recently, young people have greater access to information that was once carefully guarded by tyrants and dictators.  They see the good as well as the bad in surrounding societies. They can now organize across vast regions, mobilizing populations. Idle, humiliated by poverty, and crushed by government corruption, their frustration and anger grows.

In such a setting, for America to change lives, to change communities and nations in the Middle East, foreign aid must also play a role. And the shape that role should take was brought into focus by the life and death of Muhammed Bouazizi of Tunisia, the street vendor whose self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring.

He was just 26 years old.  He had provided for his family since he was a young boy.  He worked a small fruit stand, selling to passers-by. The regular harassment by corrupt bureaucrats was elevated one day when they took crates of his fruit and his weighing scales away from him.

On the day of his protest, witnesses say that an officer slapped Bouazizi and he cried out, “Why are you doing this to me?  I’m a simple person, and I just want to work.”

I just want to work.

Work.  That must be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs for people, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem. It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding. Work will not long tolerate corruption nor quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hard-working men and women.

To foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and in other developing countries, I will initiate “Prosperity Pacts.”  Working with the private sector, the program will identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights.

We will focus our efforts on small and medium-size businesses. Microfinance has been an effective tool at promoting enterprise and prosperity, but we must expand support to small- and medium-size businesses that are too large for microfinance, but too small for traditional banks.

The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy–free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation.

When I was in business, I traveled to many other countries.  I was often struck by the vast difference in wealth among nations.  True, some of that was due to geography.  Rich countries often had natural resources like mineral deposits or ample waterways.  But in some cases, all that separated a rich country from a poor one was a faint line on a map.  Countries that were physically right next to each other were economically worlds apart.  Just think of North and South Korea.

I became convinced that the crucial difference between these countries wasn’t geography.  I noticed the most successful countries shared something in common.  They were the freest.  They protected the rights of the individual.  They enforced the rule of law.  And they encouraged free enterprise.  They understood that economic freedom is the only force in history that has consistently lifted people out of poverty – and kept people out of poverty.

A temporary aid package can jolt an economy.  It can fund some projects.  It can pay some bills.  It can employ some people some of the time.  But it can’t sustain an economy—not for long.  It can’t pull the whole cart—because at some point, the money runs out.

But an assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise creates enduring prosperity.  Free enterprise is based on mutual exchange—or, rather, millions of exchanges—millions of people trading, buying, selling, building, investing.  Yes, it has its ups and downs.  It isn’t perfect.  But it’s more durable.  It’s more reliable.  And ultimately, as history shows, it’s more successful.

The best example of the good free enterprise can do for the developing world is the example of the developed world itself.  My friend Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out that before the year 1800, living standards in the West were appalling.  A person born in the eighteenth century lived essentially as his great-great-grandfather had.  Life was filled with disease and danger.

But starting in 1800, the West began two centuries of free enterprise and trade.  Living standards rose.  Literacy spread.  Health improved.  In our own country, between 1820 and 1998, real per capita GDP increased twenty-two-fold.

As the most prosperous nation in history, it is our duty to keep the engine of prosperity running—to open markets across the globe and to spread prosperity to all corners of the earth.  We should do it because it’s the right moral course to help others.

But it is also economically the smart thing to do. In our export industries, the typical job pays above what comparable workers make in other industries, and more than one-third of manufacturing jobs are tied to exports.  Sadly, we have lost over half a million manufacturing jobs over the last three and a half years.

As president, I will reverse this trend by ensuring we have trade that works for America.  I will negotiate new trade agreements, ask Congress to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority, complete negotiations to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and create what I call a “Reagan Economic Zone,” where any nation willing to play by the rules can participate in a new community committed to fair and free trade.

I’ve laid out a new approach for a new era.  We’ll couple aid with trade and private investment to empower individuals, encourage innovators, and reward entrepreneurs.

Today, we face a world with unprecedented challenges and complexities.  We should not forget—and cannot forget—that not far from here, a voice of unspeakable evil and hatred has spoken out, threatening Israel and the civilized world.  But we come together knowing that the bitterness of hate is no match for the strength of love.

In the weeks ahead, I will continue to speak to these challenges and the opportunities that this moment presents us.   I will go beyond foreign assistance and describe what I believe America’s strategy should be to secure our interests and ideals during this uncertain time.

A year from now, I hope to return to this meeting as president, having made substantial progress toward achieving the reforms I’ve outlined.  But I also hope to remind the world of the goodness and the bigness of the American heart.  I will never apologize for America.  I believe that America has been one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever known.  We can hold that knowledge in our hearts with humility and unwavering conviction.

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you all very much.

White House Recap September 17-24, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Addresses 66th Session United Nations General Assembly — Selling the American Jobs Act and Revising America’s Education System

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: SEPTEMBER 17-24, 2011

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: Rebuilding America

Source: WH, 9-23-11

We the People: President Obama released the U.S.’s Open Government National Action Plan, and a highlight of that plan is We the People, a new platform that gives all Americans a way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. In the first days following the launch, numerous Americans have created petitions and are currently collecting signatures.

Promoting World Peace: The President spent two days in New York City for the 66th session of United Nations General Assembly. While there, he held numerous meetings with world leaders and addressed the General Assembly speaking about the remarkable year we have had around the world and also the many challenges that stand in the way of a lasting peace. He also attended the Clinton Global Initiative, where he talked about the positive impact the American Jobs Act will have on the global economy.

Rebuilding America: President Obama visited the Ohio River’s Brent Spence Bridge, a functionally obsolete crossing on one of North America’s busiest trucking routes that connects Cincinnati, Ohio with Kentucky. The President spoke about the pressing need to improve our national infrastructure, and detailed the provisions in the American Jobs Act that will rebuild our country and put ironworkers, construction workers and carpenters back to work.

Creating a Fair Tax System: The President laid out a balanced plan to get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.  The President is calling on Congress to undertake comprehensive tax reform to simplify the system, make it more fair and efficient, and lay a stronger foundation for economic growth.  The plan details how to pay for the American Jobs Act, while also paying down our debt over time.

Improving our Education System: President Obama and representatives from the education community gathered at the White House to announce that it’s time to take action and build a world class education system. In exchange for a real commitment to undertake education reform, the Administration will enable states to request flexibility from specific mandates under No Child Left Behind.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: The country marked an important milestone this week when the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” officially came to an end. The law that was signed in December 2010 by President Obama allows people of the LGBT community to serve openly in the military.

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Obama’s Speeches with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Former President Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron & France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy & Japan’s PM Yoshihiko Noda

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Luncheon Toasts

U.N. Secretary General's Luncheon
September 21, 2011 8:18 PM

U.N. Secretary General’s Luncheon

United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

1:54 P.M. EDT

SECRETARY GENERAL BAN:  President Obama, Excellencies, distinguished heads of state and government, Your Highnesses, Your Majesties, distinguished ministers, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the United Nations. Welcome to our common house.

We are off to a flying start today, I must say. Thank you, President Obama, for your inspiring oratory, and more, for its vital importance.

As ever, we thank the United States and its generous people for hosting United Nations during last 66 years. This is the 66th session. Let me offer a special word of thanks to New Yorkers. In the last month, they have faced an earthquake, then a hurricane, now a perfect storm of the world’s leaders, creating a lot of traffic jams. And we are very much grateful for their patience.

Let me say straight off, this is my fifth lunch with the distinguished leaders of the world, and I’m very much grateful for your strong support.  In that regard, I am very glad that it is not my last lunch, and we will have five more lunches in the coming five years. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Taking this opportunity, I would like to really sincerely express my appreciation and thanks to all of the heads of state and government for your strong support. You can count on me. And it’s a great and extraordinary honor to serve this great organization.

Mr. President, 50 years ago this week, your predecessor, President John F. Kennedy, addressed the General Assembly. He came, he said to join with other world leaders — and I quote, “to look across this world of threats to a world of peace.” Looking out upon the world we see no shortages of threats.  And closer to home, wherever we might live, we see the familiar struggles of political life — left versus right, rich versus poor, and up versus down.  Seldom, however, has the debate been more emotional or strident; yet, seldom has the need for unity been greater.

We know the challenges. I won’t reprise my speech except to say that we do, indeed, have a rare and generational opportunity to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. If there is a theme in all that has been said today by the leaders, it would be the imperative of unity, solidarity, in realizing that opportunity. We must act together. There is no opt-out clause for global problem-solving.  Every country has something to give in and to gain.

Excellencies, let me close with a question. By any chance, do you ever feel that you have become a slave, you have become a slave to this machine?  (Laughter.) Somehow, I sense that I’m not alone.  I have seen so many leaders having, and speaking over the phone, even while at the summit meetings. Thanks to device like this, the world has been more connected. But let us not misunderstand that with being united and being connected depends on technology. Being united depends on us — on leaders, on institutions, and on the decisions you make.

We have come a long way since last year. Outside this building, the new flags of Southern Sudan and Libya proudly wave in the September breeze. And today I am very pleased to recognize the President of Southern Sudan — his Excellency Salva Kiir — who came to New York for the first time after their independence; and President of National Transitional Council of Libya, his Excellency Abdul Jalil — who received very strong support yesterday.  And they will continue to receive such support. Let us give them a big applause.  (Applause.)

We can be proud of the firm stand we took for freedom and democracy in Côte d’Ivoire, North Africa, and elsewhere. We can be proud of the many lives we saved, the hungry people we fed, the children we helped to grow up healthy and strong. And we can do more to make the Arab Spring a season of hope for all, to put the sustainable back into development, to prevent the crises before they explode.

And so, distinguished heads of state and government, Excellencies, Your Majesties, let us raise a glass to clarity of vision, to unity of purpose, to a common resolve for action, to the United Nations, and to continued success of each and every heads of state and government present here.

Thank you very much. Cheers. (Applause.) Cheers. Thank you. Cheers. (Applause.)

(A toast is offered.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone. These lunches come right after my remarks to the General Assembly, so I’ve already spoken too long.  (Laughter.)  As the host of the United Nations, I want to welcome all of you. In particular, though, I want to cite Secretary General Ban for his extraordinary leadership. As you begin your second term, I want to take this opportunity to thank you — not just for your leadership, but also for your lessons in life.

As we all know, the Secretary General is a very modest man, but he’s led a remarkable life. Born into World War II, as a young boy in the middle of the Korean War, having to flee the fighting with his family — just as his home country has risen, so he has risen to leadership on the world stage.

A lot of us are envious of him, because, in running for a second term, he ran unopposed — (laughter) — and he won, unanimously. (Laughter.) I’m still trying to learn what his trick is.  (Laughter.)

But, Secretary General, that fact reflects the high esteem with which all of us hold you and your leadership.  And I want to quote something that you said when you began your new term: “We live in a new era where no country can solve all challenges and where every country could be part of the solution.”  I could not agree more. Today, we see the difference you’ve made in Cote d’Ivoire, in Sudan, in Libya, in confronting climate change and nuclear safety, in peacekeeping missions that save lives every single day.

So we want to salute you. We want to salute those who serve in U.N. missions around the world, at times at great risk to themselves.  We give them their mandate, but it is they who risk their lives — and give their lives — so people can live in peace and dignity.

So I want to propose a toast. To the leader who, every day, has to work hard to try to unite nations, and to all the men and women who sustain it, especially those brave humanitarians in blue helmets. In an era of great tumult and great change, let all of us be part of the solution. Cheers. (Applause.)

(A toast is offered.)

END                                                 2:03 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative

President Obama at Clinton Global Initiative
September 22, 2011 9:02 AM

President Obama at Clinton Global Initiative

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers

New York, New York

2:43 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  For three years, now, and every year he has been in the White House, President Obama has come to CGI.  He believes in what we’re trying to do.  In his former life, he was a walking NGO.  (Laughter.)  He also is one of those Americans who believes climate change is real and deserves a real response. (Applause.)

And he recently proposed to Congress a plan that even the Republican analysts who looked at the evidence, as opposed to the rhetoric, say will add between 1.5 and 2 percent to our GDP and help us to get out of this mess we’re in and enable America to help the world again.

So I’m gratified that he found the time to come here.  I appreciate the work that he’s involved with at the United Nations.  I think he has a brilliant Secretary of State.  (Laughter and applause.)  And I am profoundly gratified that he is here with us today.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Obama.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.) It is wonderful to be here today.  It is wonderful to see so many do-gooders all in one room.  (Laughter.)  And our do-gooder-in-chief, Bill Clinton, thank you for not only the gracious introduction, but the extraordinary work that he has been doing each and every day.  You are tireless, and we are proud of what you’ve been doing.  (Applause.)

I want to thank the outstanding team here at CGI:  CEO Bob Harrison, Deputy Director Ed Hughes, all the dedicated staff.  And although she is not part of CGI, she’s certainly part of what makes Bill so successful — someone who he does not get to see enough because of me — (laughter) — but I’m grateful that he’s not bitter about it.  (Laughter.)  She’s one of the best Secretaries of State that we’ve ever had — Hillary Clinton.  (Applause.)

Now, this is the third time that I’ve been here.  Last year, I was the warm-up act for Michelle.  (Laughter.)  I just gave a big speech at the U.N. this morning, and so I will not subject you to another one.  I wanted to stop by for two reasons.

First, I want to express my appreciation for the extraordinary work that has been done by CGI.  It’s been said that “no power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” And as you know, when Bill Clinton sees an idea out there, there’s no stopping him.  CGI was an idea whose time had come.  And thanks to his relentless determination — but also, I think he’d agree, thanks to, most importantly, your commitments — you’ve created new hope and opportunity for hundreds of millions of people in nearly 200 countries.  Think about that — hundreds of millions of people have been touched by what you’ve done.  That doesn’t happen very often.

That’s the other thing I want to talk about.  Around the world, people are still reeling from the financial crisis that unfolded three years ago and the economic pain that followed.  And this morning at the United Nations, I talked about the concerted action that the world needs to take right now to right our economic ship.

But we have to remember America is still the biggest economy in the world.  So the single most important thing we could do for the global economy is to get our own economy moving again.  When America is growing the world is more likely to grow.  And obviously that’s the number-one issue on the minds of every American that I meet.  If they haven’t been out of work since the recession began, odds are they know somebody who has.  They feel as if the decks have been stacked against them.  They don’t feel as if hard work and responsibility pay off anymore, and they don’t see that hard work and responsibility reflected either in Washington or, all too often, on Wall Street.  They just want to know that their leaders are willing to step up and do something about it.

So, as President Clinton mentioned, that’s why I put forward the American Jobs Act.  Not as a silver bullet that will solve all our problems, but it will put more people back to work.  It will put more money into the pockets of working people.  And that’s what our economy needs right now.

It hires teachers, and puts them back in the classroom.  It hires construction workers, puts them out rebuilding an infrastructure that has deteriorated, and we know that that’s part of our economic success historically.  It puts our veterans back to work — after having served overseas, then coming home and not being able to find a job, when they sacrificed immeasurably on behalf of our security?

That’s what we need right now — we need more good teachers in front of our kids.  I was just having lunch over at the General Assembly with the President of South Korea.  And I still remember the first time I met him, in South Korea, and I asked him, “Well, what are your biggest challenges right now?”  He says, “Education — it’s a big challenge.”  I said, “Well, I understand.  We’ve got a big challenge in the United States, as well.”  He said, “No, you have to understand, my big challenge is, the parents are too demanding.”  (Laughter.)  “They’re coming into my office, they’re saying, our children have to learn English in first grade.  So we’re having to import teachers from other countries and pay them a premium to meet the educational demands that parents are placing on us, because they know that if their children are to succeed in the 21st century economy, they’d better know some foreign languages.”  Well, think about that.  That’s what’s happening in South Korea.  Here, we’re laying off teachers in droves?

Now is the time to upgrade our roads and our bridges and our schools.  We used to have the best airports, the best roads, the best bridges, the best ports.  I’ve been asking people recently  — I’ve taken a poll in New York — how do you find LaGuardia compared to the Beijing airport?  (Laughter.)  We laugh, but that says something.  That’s not inevitable; that’s a choice that we’re making.

We talk about climate change — something that, obviously, people here are deeply concerned about.  Talking to the CEO of Southwest Airlines, they estimate that if we put in the new generation of GPS air traffic control, we would save 15 percent in fuel costs.  “Reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent, Mr. President.”  And think about what that would do, not only to potentially lower the cost of a ticket — maybe they could start giving out peanuts again.  (Laughter .)  But think what it would do in terms of taking those pollutants out of our air.

So we know what to do.  We know that an American should — who puts his life on the line, her life on the line, should never have to fight for a job when they come home.  We know that.  We know what our values are.

So this jobs bill addresses the terrible toll that unemployment inflicts on people.  It helps long-term unemployed keep their skills sharp.  It says to young people who are underprivileged, we’re going to give you a chance at a summer job that helps to establish the kind of work habits that carry on for generations.  Because part of what happens in this kind of recession environment — the disadvantage of this generation coming in and not being able to get fully employed, that lingers for a lifetime.  It affects their lifetime earnings.  That’s contrary to our values.

This jobs bill cuts taxes for every working family and every small business owner in America to boost demand and to boost hiring.  And if you’re a small business owner who hires a new worker or raises workers’ wages, you get an extra tax cut.

So this bill answers the urgent need to create jobs right away.  And I appreciate President Clinton’s strong support of this plan over the weekend.  And the reason that that’s important is because he knows a good jobs plan when he sees it.  He created more jobs in his tenure than just about anybody.  And I’m fighting hard to make sure that we get this bill passed through Congress.

As President Clinton said, every idea in there has been supported in the past by both parties, and everything is paid for.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t pass it right away.  And for those of you who are concerned about the international economy and development, keep this in mind:  If the economy is not growing, if Americans aren’t getting back to work, it becomes that much harder for us to sustain the critical development assistance and the partnerships that help to undergird development strategies that you care dearly about all across the world.

So this is important, again, not just to the United States; this is important to the world.  It will help determine how well we can support what you are doing in the non-for-profit sector.  I’m going to be doing everything I can, everything in my power, to get this economy moving again that requires congressional support but also those things that don’t require congressional support.

Consider one of the ideas that we’re working on together.  Earlier this year, I announced a Better Buildings Initiative to rehire construction workers to make our buildings more energy-efficient.  And I asked President Clinton and my Jobs Council to challenge private companies to join us.  In June, at CGI America, we announced a commitment to upgrade 300 million square feet of space, from military housing to college campuses.  Some of these projects are breaking ground this month, putting people to work right now.  Later this year, we’ll announce more commitments that will create jobs, while saving billions for businesses on energy bills and cutting down on our pollution.

And it’s a good example of what CGI is all about:  Everybody working together — government, business, the non-for-profit sector — to create opportunities today, while ensuring those opportunities for the future.  We just need that kind of cooperation in Washington.

I have to say that I do envy President Clinton because when you’re out of Washington, it turns out that you’re just dealing with people who are reasonable all the time.  (Laughter and applause.)  Nobody is looking to score points.  Nobody is looking at the polls on any particular issue.  You’re just trying to solve problems.  And that’s the ethic that people are looking for in Washington.

We’ve got enough challenges.  It is technically difficult to figure out how we are going to deal with climate change — not impossible, but difficult.  There are technical challenges to making sure that we’re providing enough safe drinking water around the world, or making sure that preventable diseases are eradicated in countries that don’t yet have a public health infrastructure.  These things are all tough stuff.  But they’re solvable, if everybody’s attitude is that we’re working together, as opposed to trying to work at odds with each other.

And our future depends on fighting this downturn with everything that we’ve got right now.  And it demands that we invest in ourselves, even as we’re making commitments in investments around the world.  It demands we invest in research and technology, so the great ideas of tomorrow are born in our labs and our classrooms.  It demands we invest in faster transportation and communications networks, so that our businesses can compete.  It demands that we give every child the skills and education they need to succeed.

And I thank you for the commitment that you’ve made to recruit and train tens of thousands of new science, technology, engineering and math teachers.  Nothing could be more important.

We can do all this.  We can create jobs now and invest in our future, and still tackle our long-term debt problems.  Don’t tell Bill Clinton it can’t be done.  He did it.  When he was President, he did not cut our way out of prosperity; he grew our way to prosperity.  We didn’t shortchange essential investments, or balance the budget on the backs of the middle class or the poor.  We were able to live within our means, invest in our future, and ask everyone to pay their fair share.

And what happened?  The private sector thrived.  The rich got richer.  The middle class grew.  Millions rose out of poverty.  America ran a surplus that was on track to be debt-free by next year.  We were a nation firing on all cylinders.

That’s the kind of nation that we’ve got to work to build again.  It will take time after the kind of crisis that we’ve endured.  And this is a once-in-a-generation crisis.  But we can get through it.  But our politics right now is not doing us any favors.

Nevertheless, I believe we can and we will get there, by remembering what made us great — by building an economy where innovation is encouraged, education is a national mission, new jobs and businesses choose to take root right here in the United States.  And that’s what CGI reflects.  It reflects the American spirit, which is big and bold and generous, and doesn’t shy away from challenges, and says that we’re all in it together.

And when I think about the contributions that all of you have made, that makes me confident.  Those of us who have been most blessed by this nation, we are ready to give back.  But we’ve got to be asked.  And that’s what I’m hoping members of Congress recognize.  I don’t want a small, cramped vision of what America can be.  We want a big and generous vision of what America can be.  And the world is inspired when we have that vision.

And, by the way, that vision is not a Democratic vision or a Republican idea.  These are not ideas that belong to one political party or another.  They are the things a rising nation does, and the thing that retreating nations don’t do.  And we are not a retreating nation.

So despite the many challenges we face right now, I believe America must continue to be a rising nation, with rising fortunes.  And that makes — that means making sure that everybody is participating and everybody is getting a shot, because when all of our people do well, America does well.  And when America does well, that’s good for the rest of the world.  That’s what President Clinton has always understood.

So, Mr. President, thank you for all the opportunities that you help to create every day.  Thank you to all of you who are participating in CGI.  You are doing the Lord’s work.  And I can assure you that you will continue to have a partner in the Obama administration for what I expect to be years to come.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:57 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom
September 21, 2011 8:45 PM

President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York
3:55 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me welcome Prime Minister Cameron to the United States and New York.  Obviously, there is an extraordinary special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, and I am very fortunate that over the last year or two, David and I have been able to, I think, establish an excellent friendship as well.

And that’s part of what makes the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom so important, is that it’s grounded not only in shared values and broad-based agreement on policy, but it’s also based on the individual relationships that we have and the friendships and joint traditions that we have.

We’ve got a lot to talk about.  We have worked closely together to help bring about freedom and peace in Libya.  We are coordinating closely in managing a very difficult time for the global economy.  We are keenly interested in finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  On all these issues, I’ve always found Prime Minister Cameron to be an outstanding partner.

And so I’m very grateful for his friendship, his hard work, and his dedication and his leadership on the global stage, and I look forward to a very productive discussion today.

Welcome.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  If I may say thank you, Barack, for that warm welcome.  It’s great to be back — great to be back in New York, and particularly on this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a reminder of how our countries always work together in defeating terror and trying to make our world a safer place.

As you say, we worked very closely together on Libya, and I think we’re getting to a good conclusion there, with a real chance of freedom and democracy for those people.  We’re working closely together on Afghanistan; also the Middle East peace process, where we’re desperate to get that moving again.  And I’m looking forward to discussions on the world economy, which we will follow up in Cannes at the G20, where we’ve got to get the world economy moving.

So these are very important times.  I think the relationship is as strong as it’s ever been, and it’s been a pleasure working with you these last 16 months.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Excellent.  Thank you very much, everybody.

Q: Can you give us your reaction to the hikers being released?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We are thrilled that the hikers were released, and we are thrilled for the families.  It was the right thing to do.  They shouldn’t have been held in the first place, but we’re glad they’re now home.

END
3:58 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Sarkozy of France

 

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President Sarkozy of France
September 21, 2011 9:07 PM

President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with President Sarkozy of France

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York

4:53 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  On the anniversary of September 11th, President Sarkozy gave a speech at our embassy in Paris, and he reminded the people of France, but also the world, of the extraordinary friendship that had developed, in part, because of the great sacrifices that our men and women in uniform have made over the decades to preserve freedom and democracy.  And so, not only am I grateful for the expression of deep friendship that President Sarkozy expressed, but I want to affirm the mutuality of feeling that we have towards the French people.

That partnership has been evidenced by the extraordinary work that we’ve done together in Libya.  And I want to thank President Sarkozy for his leadership, as a coalition helped the Libyan people achieve the kind of freedom and opportunity that they’re looking for.  That partnership is evidenced in the work we did together in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that the rightfully elected leader of that country was put in place.  And our partnership and our mutual leadership will be required to deal with a range of international issues that have been discussed here at the United Nations and are going to be critical in the months and years to come, including trying to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also trying to find a coordinated world strategy, global strategy, to deal with a economy that is still far too fragile.

And, of course, we still have the joint project to bring stability and transition to Afghan governance.  And we are extraordinarily grateful for the sacrifices that the men and women in uniform from France have made in that effort.

On a personal note, I consider Nicolas a friend as well as a colleague.  Thank you for your leadership.  Welcome.  And I look forward to a very productive discussion.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY:  (As translated.)  I should like to say just how delighted we are to be here in the United States, in New York, alongside Barack Obama.

Now, for we, the people of France, I must say, it’s actually easy to work with Barack Obama.  Whatever the crises we’ve had to face together, whatever the initiatives we have taken jointly, on every single occasion we have found a listening, open-minded attitude on the part of our friend, Barack Obama.  In particular, when tackling the crisis, which is still upon us today, the leadership that President Obama has shown, and showed at the time, have been of a special value to us all.

There is still much to do, in particular in paving the way to the G20 summit in Cannes.  This is our priority; our number-one priority — let me make this very clear — is to find the path to growth worldwide.

Lastly, I wish to say to what extent I am sensitive to the boldness, the courage, the intelligence, and the sensitivity of President Obama, my friend.  I liked him before his election; I liked him once he was elected; and I especially appreciate him now, when the tough times are upon us.

And there’s one thing I want to say, perhaps on a more personal note, and that I really mean from the bottom of my heart.  When things are as tough as they are right now, when the going gets as tough as it is right now, it is especially precious and important to be able to speak to what is the world’s number-one power — to someone who listens; someone who is sensitive to others; someone who is respectful and aware of other people’s redlines and prepared to take them into account, especially at a time when, as I said, we are facing fresh difficulties, and we really need, together, to go forward.

(Speaking in English.)  She speaks like me.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

END
5:02 P.M. EDT

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Noda of Japan before Bilateral Meeting

United Nations
New York, New York

12:20 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to welcome Prime Minister Noda and his delegation to New York City and to the United States.  As all of you are aware, we have an extraordinary alliance with Japan.  They are one of our closest friends, our closest allies.  We have worked cooperatively on a range of issues related to security, related to economics, and the bonds of friendship between our peoples is equally strong.

Prime Minister Noda and I have had the opportunity to speak by phone, although this is the first time that we’ve had a meeting face to face.  I know that he, like all of us, has some extraordinary challenges that we have to address.  And I know that at the top of his list is rebuilding Japan in the aftermath of the horrific tsunami that occurred.  I’ve repeatedly stressed that America will do everything that we can to make sure that that rebuilding is a success.

At the same time, obviously, we have other important work to do together.  As the two largest economies in the world, we have to continue to promote growth that can help put our people to work and improve standards of living.  We have to modernize our alliance to meet the needs of the 21st century.  And so I’m looking forward to a very productive discussion, and what I’m sure will be an excellent working relationship with the Prime Minister, as well as his team.

PRIME MINISTER NODA:  (As translated.)  The biggest priority and the immediate challenge for the Japan government is the recovery from the great East Japan earthquake and the situation with the economy.  But, at the same time, even from before the earthquake took place, we had a lot of challenges both domestically and in foreign policy areas.  And those must be dealt with one by one, thereby creating a stable (inaudible.)  That’s the challenge for my government.

Our top priority is the reconstruction from the disaster of the earthquake in Japan, the great East Japan earthquake.  The United States has provided enormous amount of support, including Operation Tomodachi and a lot of efforts made by Ambassador Roos. And on behalf of all Japanese nationals, I thank you.  And thank you for your support.

I have a firm belief that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key pillar of our foreign policy.  Through the assistance that we received after the earthquake this has become an even more unwavering one.  And the Japanese public also were assured, and we recognize the significance and importance of our alliance.

It was reported that the meeting between our Foreign Minister Gemba and Secretary of State Clinton was a very fruitful one, and we would like to further deepen and enhance the bilateral alliance between our two countries in the three major fields of security, economy, and also the cultural and the people-to–people exchange.

One worry that I’ve have is that there is a emerging concern that once recovering the economy we might be drawn back into another recession, and Japan and the United States must work on the economic growth and the fiscal situation at the same time.  And you have the presence of Secretary Geithner here, and we have to work together at the forums — the G20 and other market forum — to coordinate with each other.  And I’m looking forward to having such discussions with you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.

END
12:29 P.M. EDT

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama Meets with World Leaders on Day Two at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Meets with World Leaders on Day Two at the U.N General Assembly

Source: WH, 9-21-11
UNGA: potus shakes hands with Clinton at Global Initiative

President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President Bill Clinton after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) September 21, 2011.

President Obama marked the 19th anniversary of the International Day of Peace with a series of meetings and events as he participated in the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The President began his day with an address to the General Assembly, where he spoke about the remarkable changes that have occurred throughout the world since the last gathering of this group:

This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Following the address, President Obama met with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and pledged America’s commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East. The Prime Minister agreed with President Obama’s assertion that direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine are the only way to achieve that goal:

I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state through the international community, but they’re not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return.  And my hope is that there will be other leaders in the world, responsible leaders, who will heed your call, Mr. President, and oppose this effort to shortcut peace negotiations — in fact, to avoid them. Because I think that avoiding these negotiations is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for peace.

The President had his first face to face meeting with Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda. The two leaders discussed the ongoing recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated that country earlier this year, and the importance of the strong Japan-U.S. relationship. The Prime Minister echoed the President’s desire to maintain this vital partnership:

I have a firm belief that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key pillar of our foreign policy. Through the assistance that we received after the earthquake this has become an even more unwavering one.  And the Japanese public also were assured, and we recognize the significance and importance of our alliance.

The President also spoke at the annual luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for world leaders, where he saluted the work of those who served in U.N. missions all over the world,  “who risk their lives– and give their lives — so people can live in peace and dignity.”

UNGA: potus toasts with Ban Ki-Moon

President Barack Obama delivers a toast during the luncheon hosted by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations Building in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) September 21, 2011.

During a stop at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama discussed the the international implications of our onging economic woes. “The single most important thing we could do for the global economy is to get our own economy moving again. When America is growing the world is more likely to grow.”

Late in the day, the President and his senior foreign policy advisors met with some of our closest European allies. In a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, both men stressed the importance of the U.S.-U.K. relationship. The two countries have  worked closely together on the fight for freedom in Libya, the war in Afghanistan and the ongoing Middle East peace process.

In his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Obama said he would be relying on France to help deal with numerous pressing international issues, ” including trying to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also trying to find a coordinated world strategy, global strategy, to deal with a economy that is still far too fragile.”

President Barack Obama greets President Nicolas Sarkozy of France

President Barack Obama greets President Nicolas Sarkozy of France during a bilateral meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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