President Barack Obama’s Statement on the UK Decision to Leave the European Union

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS

President Obama on the UK Decision to Leave the European Union

Source: WH, 6-24-16

“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.”

 

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Full Text Political Transcripts June 24, 2016: British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech announcing his resignation after the UK votes to leave the European Union

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS:

British Prime Minister David Cameron announces his resignation after the UK votes to leave the European Union

Source: AOL, 6-24-16

“Good morning everyone, the country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise, perhaps the biggest in our history.

Over 33 million people from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have all had their say.

We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people for these big decisions.

We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we’ve governed there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves and that is what we have done.

The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believe was the national interest and let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign for the spirited and passionate case that they made.

The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.

It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.

So there can be no doubt about the result.

Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made.

I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong and I would also reassure Britons living in European countries and European citizens living here there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances.

There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union.

This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.

But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.

I’m very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years.

I believe we’ve made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality, but above all restoring Britain’s economic strength.

And I’m grateful to everyone who’s helped to make that happen.

I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions, not duck them.

That is why we delivered the first coalition government in 70 years, to bring our economy back from the brink.

It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland.

And it’s why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and to hold the referendum on our membership and have carried those things out.

I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.

I held nothing back, I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician including myself.

But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

There is no need for a precise timetable today but in my view we should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.

Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months.

The Cabinet will meet on Monday, the Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets.

We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech.

And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.

A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new prime minister and I think it’s right that this new prime minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.

The British people have made a choice that not only needs to be respected but those on the losing side of the argument – myself included – should help to make it work.

Britain is a special country – we have so many great advantages – a parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate, a great trading nation with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity, respected the world over.

And while we are not perfect I do believe we can be a model for the multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, that people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.

Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths.

I said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.

Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way and I will do everything I can to help.

I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.

Thank you very much.”

Full Text Political Transcripts June 24, 2016: Brexit Results: Referendum of the United Kingdom’s European Union membership

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS:

Referendum of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union

Last updated Jun 24 at 2:11 AM
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
100.0% Reporting
Votes
Remain a member of the European Union
48.1%
16,141,241

Leave the European Union

51.9%
17,410,742

 

News Headlines December 6, 2014: Prince William to meet Obama and Biden at White House while on US trip with Kate

NEWS HEADLINES

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THE HEADLINES….

Prince William to meet Obama and Biden at White House while on US trip with Kate

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will have an audience with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 when Prince William comes to the White House and they will meet in the Oval Office…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 6, 2013: Joint Statement on Syria

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Joint Statement on Syria

Source: WH, 9-6-13

The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America made the following statement on the margins of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia:

The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.  The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere.  Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons.

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children.  The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.

Signatories have consistently supported a strong UN Security Council Resolution, given the Security Council’s responsibilities to lead the international response, but recognize that the Council remains paralyzed as it has been for two and a half years.  The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability.  We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

We commit to supporting longer term international efforts, including through the United Nations, to address the enduring security challenge posed by Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.  Signatories have also called for the UN fact finding mission to present its results as soon as possible, and for the Security Council to act accordingly.

We condemn in the strongest terms all human rights violations in Syria on all sides.  More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million people have become refugees, and approximately 5 million are internally displaced.  Recognizing that Syria’s conflict has no military solution, we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique.  We are committed to a political solution which will result in a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.

We have contributed generously to the latest United Nations (UN) and ICRC appeals for humanitarian assistance and will continue to provide support to address the growing humanitarian needs in Syria and their impact on regional countries. We welcome the contributions announced at the meeting of donor countries on the margins of the G20.  We call upon all parties to allow humanitarian actors safe and unhindered access to those in need.

European signatories will continue to engage in promoting a common European position.

Political Headlines August 29, 2013: President Barack Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No

Source: NYT, 8-29-13

A United Nations team on Thursday with a sample from one of the sites in the Damascus area where a chemical weapons attack is suspected. World leaders reacted to the heightened expectation of an attack, and Ban Ki-moon urged restraint.
Mohamed Abdullah/Reuters

A United Nations team on Thursday with a sample from one of the sites in the Damascus area where a chemical weapons attack is suspected. World leaders reacted to the heightened expectation of an attack, and Ban Ki-moon urged restraint.

President Obama is ready to pursue a limited military strike even with a rejection of such action by Britain and mounting questions from Congress, officials said….READ MORE

Political Headlines August 24, 2013: President Barack Obama Meets with Top Advisers on Syria, Calls UK’s David Cameron

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Meets with Top Advisers on Syria, Calls UK’s David Cameron

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three days after an alleged, large-scale chemical-weapons attack in Syria, President Obama spent much of Saturday meeting with his highest-level national-security and intelligence advisers, grappling with what to do if Syria has crossed the “red line” of chemical-weapons use.

The U.S. intelligence community is still gathering evidence about Wednesday’s attack in a suburb of Damascus that sent thousands to hospitals and left hundreds reported dead, the White House said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 14, 2012: UK State Dinner — President Barack Obama & British PM David Cameron’s Speeches Toasting the Alliance between America and Britain

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Toasting the Alliance between America and Britain

Source: WH, 3-14-12

President Obama, the First Lady, Prime Minister Cameron, and Samantha Cameron pose for an official State Dinner photo (March 14, 2012)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Mrs. Samantha Cameron for an official State Dinner photo in the Grand Foyer of the White House, March 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Technically, Prime Minister Cameron’s trip to the United States is an official visit — not a state visit. State visits are reserved for the head of state, and in the case of the United Kingdom, that means the Queen. But last night, the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha Cameron were honored with a State Dinner all the same.

They were joined by dignitaries from both countries — including Warren and Susan Buffet, Sir Jony Ive (the Apple designer), Hugh Bonnerville (the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey), and George Clooney.

Before raising his glass for a toast, President Obama spoke again on the nature of the values our two countries share:

In war and in peace, in times of plenty and times of hardship, we stand tall and proud and strong, together. And as free peoples committed to the dignity of all human beings, we will never apologize for our way of life, nor waver in its defense.

It’s why David’s grandfather fought alongside us Yanks after D-Day; why my grandfather marched across Europe in Patton’s army. It’s why tonight, at dusty bases in Afghanistan, both American and British soldiers are getting ready to go on patrol, like generations before them, shoulder to shoulder. It’s why our diplomats and development workers are side by side, standing with the activists who dare to demand their rights, save a child from drought or famine.

Read the full set of remarks from both leaders here. Or check out a slideshow of images throughout the visit below.

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President Obama And First Lady Ready To Greet

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in an Exchange of Toasts at State Dinner

South Grounds Tent

9:01 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everyone.  Please have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  I was just telling the Prime Minister that, so far, the evening has been successful because I have not stepped on Michelle’s train.  (Laughter.)  My main goal this evening.  Michelle and I could not be more honored that you could join us as we host our great friends — the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, and his remarkable wife, Samantha.  You can give them a round of applause — why not?  (Applause.)

As I said this morning, this visit also gives us an opportunity to return the gracious hospitality that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as well as David and Samantha and all the British people showed us during our visit to London last year.  And I know Michelle looks forward to returning.  Because, as she announced yesterday, she will be leading the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London.  (Applause.)  I am jealous.  (Laughter.)

Now, I’m so grateful for all the time that David and I have had together.  But as we’ve learned, you can never tell how things will get reported as a consequence of our interactions.  When we met two years ago, we exchanged beers from our hometowns.  One news story said:  “David Cameron and Barack Obama cemented their special relationship — by hitting the bottle.”  (Laughter.)

When we had a barbeque at Downing Street for some of our servicemembers, David and I rolled up our sleeves, threw away the aprons, decided to flip the burgers ourselves.  One reporter called it a “brave and foolish move.”  (Laughter.)  Another expressed amazement at our “surprising competence.”  (Laughter.)  Michelle and Samantha often remark the same way.  (Laughter.)

And finally, when David and I got beat pretty badly in table tennis by some local London kids, one newspaper asked the head coach of the British Olympic women’s team to critique our performance.  Obama, the coach said, “talked a lot.”  (Laughter.)  David “overhits the ball.”  (Laughter.)  Both of them — I’m quoting here –“looked a little confused.”  (Laughter.)

But in moments like that, and in all of our interactions — including today — I’ve learned something about David.  In good times and in bad, he’s just the kind of partner that you want at your side.  I trust him.  He says what he does, and he does what he says.  And I’ve seen his character.  And I’ve seen his commitment to human dignity, during Libya.  I’ve seen his resolve, his determination to get the job done, whether it’s righting our economies or succeeding in Afghanistan.

And I will say something else, David.  All of us have seen how you, as a parent, along with Samantha, have shown a measure of strength that few of us will ever know.  Tonight, I thank you for bringing that same strength and solidarity to our partnership — even if you do overhit the ball.  (Laughter.)

We are by no means the first President and Prime Minister to celebrate the deep and abiding bonds between our people.  There has been no shortage of words uttered about our special relationship.  And I was humbled to offer my own last year when I had the opportunity to address Parliament in Westminster Hall.

So, rather than words, I’d like to leave you tonight with two simple images.  They’re from different times and places, decades apart.  But they’re moments, I think, that reveal the spirit of our alliance and the character of our countries.

The first is from the Blitz, when, month after month, the British people braved the onslaught from the sky.  And one of those most enduring images from those days is of the London skyline, covered in smoke, with one thing shining through — the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, tall and proud and strong.  The other image we know from our own lives — from that awful September day, that unforgettable picture of the Manhattan skyline, covered in smoke and dust, with one thing shining through — our Statue of Liberty, tall and proud and strong.

In those two moments I think you see all you need to know about who we are and what brings us together tonight.  In war and in peace, in times of plenty and times of hardship, we stand tall and proud and strong, together.  And as free peoples committed to the dignity of all human beings, we will never apologize for our way of life, nor waver in its defense.

It’s why David’s grandfather fought alongside us Yanks after D-Day; why my grandfather marched across Europe in Patton’s army.  It’s why tonight, at dusty bases in Afghanistan, both American and British soldiers are getting ready to go on patrol, like generations before them, shoulder to shoulder.  It’s why our diplomats and development workers are side by side, standing with the activists who dare to demand their rights, save a child from drought or famine.

It’s why leaders of our two countries can embrace the same shared heritage and the promise of our alliance — even if we come from different political traditions; even if the Prime Minister is younger than nearly 200 years of his predecessors; even if the President looks a little different than his predecessors.  And David, it’s why, tonight, our young children — and children across our countries — can sleep well, knowing that we’re doing everything in our power to build a future that is worthy of their dreams.

So, in closing, let me just say that I intended to make history tonight.  I thought that I could be the first American President to make it through an entire visit of our British friends without quoting Winston Churchill.  (Laughter.)  But then I saw this great quote and I thought, “Come on, this is Churchill!”  (Laughter.)  So I couldn’t resist.

It was December 1941, and the attack on Pearl Harbor had finally thrust America into war, alongside our British friends.  And these were the words Sir Winston spoke to his new American partners:  “I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”

And so I’d like to propose a toast:  To Her Majesty the Queen, on her Diamond Jubilee; to our dear friends, David and Samantha; and to the great purpose and design of our alliance.  May we remain, now and always, its faithful servants.  Cheers, everyone.

(A toast is offered.)

David.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  President Obama, First Lady, ladies and gentlemen:  It is a tremendous honor to be here this evening. And I want to thank you for putting on such a great dinner, and for making our visit so special over the last two days.  And thank you also for those strong and beautiful words that you’ve just spoken.

Now, Michelle, I’m sure that, like Sam, you often wonder what happens when your husband goes for a night out with the guys.  (Laughter.)  So maybe I should come clean about last night.  (Laughter.)  We went to basketball and we had a real man-to-man chat.  Barack tried to confuse me by talking about bracketology — (laughter) — but I got my own back by running him gently through the rules of cricket.  (Laughter.)

The truth is we have to have a guys’ night out because so often we find we are completely overshadowed by our beautiful wives.  (Applause.)

As I rolled into bed last night, I said, “Samantha, do you want to hear about what I got up to on this great guys’ night out?”  And she — she’s not too impressed by these things.  She said, “Well, everything you did was on television.  You were surrounded by the presidential bodyguard, so presumably you didn’t get up to anything.”  (Laughter.)

Now, both Barack and I have said a lot today about the importance of the relationship between our two countries and our peoples.  Like my predecessors, I’m proud of our essential relationship and of Britain’s strong national bond with the United States of America.  I feel it in my bones.

Now, there is, of course a great history of close relationships between U.S. Presidents and British Prime Ministers.  Importantly, these have been regardless of the political parties they happen to represent.  Her Majesty the Queen is a great authority on the matter.  She has seen — and she likes to tell me this — no fewer than 12 British Prime Ministers and 11 American Presidents during her time on the throne.  But I’m sure everyone here would want to pay tribute to her incredible service and selfless duty in this, her special Diamond Jubilee year.  (Applause.)

Now, Her Majesty’s first Prime Minister was, of course, Winston Churchill, a regular guest here at the White House.  I’m not going to quote from Churchill, I’m going to quote about Churchill — because it seems his visits were not always the easiest experience for his American hosts.

As Roosevelt’s secretary wrote after one visit:  “Churchill is a trying guest.  He drinks like a fish.  He smokes like a chimney.  He has irregular routines, works nights, sleeps days, and turns the clocks upside down.”  And for those of you who wonder why the British Prime Minister now stays at Blair House rather than the White House — (laughter) — I simply observe this.  We all know the story of Winston Churchill famously found naked in his bath by President Roosevelt.  This happened while he stayed at the White House in December 1941, and the federal government bought Blair House in 1942.  (Laughter.)

Now, for every genuine presidential-prime ministerial friendship, there have been some — I think we could call them –total disconnects.  Edward Heath and Richard Nixon took personal awkwardness with each other to new and excruciating levels.  (Laughter.)  And yet, despite this, Richard Nixon arranged for someone to pay for the swimming pool at the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers.  Incidentally, this swimming pool now has a serious and possibly terminal leak.  (Laughter.)

So I hope you won’t find it amiss as I say here in the White House, for the first time in 40 years, these words:  It is time to call in the plumbers.  (Laughter.)

Now, turning to Obama-Cameron.  As fellow parents, Barack and Michelle have both been personally very kind to Sam and me.  And as fellow leaders, we’ve struck up, I believe, a really good partnership.  It is frank and honest.  We talk through issues very rationally.  We don’t need to remind each other of the basic threats that we face; we know them.  But there are three things about Barack that really stand out for me:  strength, moral authority, and wisdom.

Strength, because Barack has been strong when required to defend his national interests.  Under President Obama’s leadership, America got bin Laden.  (Applause.)  And together with British and coalition forces, America has fundamentally weakened al Qaeda.  The President says what he will do and he sticks to it.

I’ll never forget that phone call on Libya, when he told me exactly what role America would play in Libya, and he delivered his side of the bargain to the letter.  We delivered our side of the bargain, too.  And let us all agree that the world is better off without bin Laden, but the world is better off without Qaddafi, too.  (Applause.)

Moral authority, because Barack understands that the means matter every bit as much as the ends.  Yes, America must do the right thing, but to provide moral leadership, America must do it in the right way, too.  The first President I studied at school was Theodore Roosevelt.  He talked of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.  That is Barack’s approach.  And in following it, he has pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world.

Wisdom, because Barack has not rushed into picking fights, but is steward of America’s resources of hard and soft power.  He’s taken time to make considered decisions, drawing down troops from Iraq and surging in Afghanistan.  He’s found a new voice for America with the Arab people.  And at home, he’s recognized that in America, as in Britain, the future depends on making the best of every citizen.  Both our nations have historically been held back by inequality.  But now there’s a determined effort in both our countries — most notably through education reform — to ensure that opportunity is truly available for all.

Half a century ago, the amazing courage of Rosa Parks, the visionary leadership of Martin Luther King, and the inspirational actions of the civil rights movement led politicians to write equality into the law and make real the promise of America for all her citizens.  But in the fight for justice and the struggle for freedom, there is no end, because there is so much more to do to ensure that every human being can fulfill their potential.

That is why our generation faces a new civil rights struggle, to seek the prize of the future that is open to every child as never before.

Barack has made this one of the goals of his presidency, the goal he’s pursuing with enormous courage.  And it is fitting that a man whose own personal journey defines the promise and potential of this unique nation should be working to fulfill the hopes of his country in this way.

Barack, it is an honor to call you an ally, a partner, and a friend.  You don’t get to choose the circumstances you have to deal with as a President or a Prime Minister.  And you don’t get to choose the leaders that you have to work with.  But all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with someone with moral strength, with clear reason, and with fundamental decency in this task of renewing our great national alliance for today and for the generations to follow.

And with that, I propose a toast:  To the President, to the First Lady, and to the people of the United States of America.  Cheers.

(A toast is offered.)  (Applause.)

END
9:19 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 14, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the U.K. State Dinner for the Press

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the U.K. State Dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the U.K. State Dinner
Source: WH, 3-14-12

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the First Lady at State Dinner Press Preview

State Dining Room

1:55 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, isn’t this beautiful?  Every time I see this — see, I’m getting to see the full effect along with you all.  The placements are beautiful.

Well, welcome.  Good afternoon.  How’s everybody doing?  Welcome to the White House.

One of the things that I love to do — we’re doing a press preview.  And just to be simple, we open up the state dinner to the press so that they get to see what the inside of the tent is going to look like, what the feel of the dinner is going to be, and what the menu is going to taste like, and all of that good stuff.  So that’s something that we generally do with the state dinner.

But over the years, as we’ve invited guests here, we also try to open up these press previews to students and young people, so that you all get a sense of what actually happens at a state dinner — what goes on at that dinner; what’s the purpose of it; what does it feel like.  So we have decided — we have made this a wonderful tradition to invite you all here to the press preview to be a part of it.  And that’s what we’re doing this afternoon.

And we have three wonderful groups of young women who are with us today.  We’ve got National Cathedral School students who are here.  Where are you guys?  Right here in D.C.  Hello.  How are you guys?  What years do we have here?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Juniors and seniors.

MRS. OBAMA:  Juniors and seniors.  Excellent.  Excellent.

And we also have the Elizabeth Seton High School students in Maryland.  Where are you all?  Over there.  What years?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Twelfth.

MRS. OBAMA:  Twelfth.  Going to college?  Moving and grooving?  You guys are all ready to — college bound as well?  Good.  Good.

And then we have some very special guests from the United Kingdom, our young ladies — 12 of them — from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School.  And these young ladies are right here with us, and they are 12 wonderful young people.  I have developed a terrific relationship with the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School over the years.

When I did my very first visit to the UK a couple of years ago, I got to visit the school.  And the students there were amazing.  They did a wonderful program for me, and I was so touched and so moved and felt so connected to them that one of the things I wanted to do was just stay connected.  And we have done that.

And when we visited again last year, I took a group of them to Oxford to see one of the finest colleges in the country to make sure that like all of you young women here, that our girls in the UK were reaching for the greatest heights possible and seeing the inside of some of the most astounding institutions their country has to offer.  And when I was there, I invited them back to the United States.

And because of their wonderful teachers and sponsors and mentors, they selected 12 students who had to compete, actually, to attend this trip — write essays and show their leadership skills.  And these are the 12 young women who were selected, and they’ve been here for a few days; you’ve gotten to go to the State Department.

We met yesterday with the mentees that I host here at the White House.  We had a good little conversation; you guys did some community service with our mentees yesterday, and we’re grateful — at Martha’s Table.  So we’re very proud of the investment that you’re making while you’re here.

So we are just happy to have all of you here this afternoon.  And we want you to relax, enjoy yourselves.  Because you’re going to hear a bit about what a state visit — what we try to accomplish at a state visit.  And you’re going to hear from Brooke Anderson — she’s the Chief of Staff for the National Security Staff — who’s to my left.  And she’s going to talk a bit about what a state visit means, what we’re trying to accomplish with this particular state visit.  And she can answer anything.  She’s phenomenal, she’s smart, she knows a little bit about everything.  So she’s going to help you guys through that.

And we also have one of my dear friends, Cris Comerford, who’s the Executive Chef for the White House.  So she is responsible for what we eat — she designs the menu, she works with her staff.  And let me tell you, we have hundreds of guests coming tonight, and it is a complete production for them to put together this meal.

And the White House is a big place, but the kitchen is really teeny.  You wouldn’t believe it; it’s a little-bitty kitchen.  So they have to really man the engines to make it happen.  But actually, because we’re in a tent tonight, you probably have more space than you usually do when we have the dinner here.

But Cris will talk about the menu; she’ll talk about what they think about in pulling together an event like this.  And again, you can ask her any questions as well.  She is one of the first female executive White House chefs that the White House has ever had.  And she cooks for our family, she does all the special occasions, she feeds the nation as they come through the White House.  And she is very good at what she does.

So we have two wonderful people here today who will lead you through a presentation.  So you guys, as I always say to the young women who come — speak up.  Ask questions.  This is — it’s only formal because we wanted you to see what it’s going to feel like.  But other than that, you guys enjoy yourselves.  Learn as much as you can.  Don’t be hesitant.

And then, to top it off, we’re going to let you guys try some of the dessert — (laughter) — that we’re going to have.  And you’ll be the first — after me.  I think me and Grandma and a couple of people, we’ve tasted the desserts, but you guys will be the first to taste the desserts tonight.

So we are just excited to have you.  We’re very proud of all of you, because all of you have shown a level of dedication to your school and your community, a level of leadership.  And I’m sure that’s why your school selected you to be here.  We are very proud of you.  And hopefully, you’ll be on the other end of some state dinner — maybe you’ll be doing what Brooke is doing, or doing what Cris is doing, or maybe you’ll be doing what I’m doing or what President Obama is doing.  But you’ll get a taste of what you might do when you get into these high posts, because we expect very big things from all of you.  All right?

So I’m going to go, because I have to go look at the tent.  I’m going to see what’s going on there.  And I will hand it over to Brooke, who will take good care of you.  It’s great to see you all.  Love you guys.  Have fun.

All right, take care.  (Applause.)

END
2:02 P.M. EDT

UK State Dinner: What’s On The Menu?

Source: WH, 3-14-12
Guests at tonight’s State Dinner honoring David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his wife Samantha, will enjoy a meal that represents the best of American hospitality and includes playful references to classic British traditions. First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford have put together a menu that features produce harvested yesterday from the White House’s Kitchen Garden, including baby lettuces, spring onions and  fresh herbs. The dinner will be served in a tent on the White House’s South Lawn.

The first course, Crisped Halibut with Potato Crust, will be served on a bed of braised baby kale fresh from the White House garden. The salad features spring garden lettuces with shallot dressing and includes a variety of greens, which are also from the Kitchen Garden.

Comerford says the main course, Bison Wellington, is a “great marriage of the two countries”  and features a uniquely American protein prepared in a quintessentially British style. For dessert, White House pastry chef William Yosses and his team have prepared a lemon sponge pudding in the British style, which they are serving with Newtown Pippin Apples, a variety that was grown by some of our founding fathers, and was even sent as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1838….MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 14, 2012: President Barack Obama & UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Bridging the Pond: President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron Hold a Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 3-14-12

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom hold a press conference (March 14, 2012)
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom hold a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
After the morning’s State Arrival ceremony and a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron took advantage of a beautiful spring day to hold a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

The two leaders answered questions about the global economy, Iran’s nuclear program, and the war in Afghanistan. They also touched on a potential cross-cultural-sports exchange — offering the President an introduction to cricket in exchange for the Prime Minister’s crash course in bracketology.

Both men emphasized the open communiation and strong relationship between the two countries, with President Obama saying:

“The alliance between our countries is a foundation — not only for the security and prosperity of our two nations, but for international peace and security as well.  David shares my belief that, in a time of rapid change, the leadership of the United States and the United Kingdom is more important than ever.  …The future we seek is only possible if the rights and responsibilities of nations and people are upheld.  And that’s a cause that we advanced today.”

Prime Minister Cameron echoed these sentiments:

“There are some countries whose alliance is a matter of convenience, but ours is a matter of conviction.  Two states… united for freedom and enterprise; working together, day in, day out, to defend those values and advance our shared interests.” Later emphasizing that: “the relationship between Britain and America is the strongest that it has ever been.  And I believe that’s because we’re working together as closely as at any point in our history.  And together, I’m confident that we can help secure the future of our nations and the world for generations to come.”

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (1331MB) | mp3 (85MB)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in a Joint Press Conference

Rose Garden

12:27 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Please have a seat.  Again, it is a great honor to welcome my friend and partner, Prime Minister David Cameron, back to the White House for this official visit.

I know there’s been a lot of focus on last night’s game.  Some have asked how it came about.  So I want to set the record straight.  During my visit to London last year, David arranged for us to play some local students — table tennis.  As they would say in Britain, we got thrashed.  So when it came to sports on this visit, I thought it would be better if we just watched.  That said, I’m still trying to get David to fill out his bracket.

We’ve just finished up a very good discussion, and it was a reminder of why I value David’s leadership and partnership so much.  He appreciates how the alliance between our countries is a foundation — not only for the security and prosperity of our two nations, but for international peace and security as well.  David shares my belief that, in a time of rapid change, the leadership of the United States and the United Kingdom is more important than ever.  And we share the view that the future we seek is only possible if the rights and responsibilities of nations and people are upheld.  And that’s a cause that we advanced today.

At a time when too many of our people are still out of work, we agree that we’ve got to stay focused on creating the growth and jobs that put our people back to work, even as both our countries make difficult choices to put our fiscal houses in order.  Between us, we have the largest investment relationship in the world, and we’ve instructed our teams to continue to explore ways to increase transatlantic trade and investment.  And I very much appreciate David’s perspective on the fiscal situation in the eurozone, where both our countries — our economies, our businesses, our banks — are deeply connected.

We moved on to discuss Afghanistan, where we are the two largest contributors of forces to the international mission and where our forces continue to make extraordinary sacrifices.  The tragic events of recent days are a reminder that this continues to be a very difficult mission.  And obviously we both have lost a number of extraordinary young men and women in theater.  What’s also undeniable, though — and what we can never forget — is that our forces are making very real progress:  dismantling al Qaeda; breaking the Taliban’s momentum; and training Afghan forces so that they can take the lead and our troops can come home.

That transition is already underway, and about half of all Afghans currently live in areas where Afghan security forces are taking responsibility.  Today, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the transition plan that we agreed to with our coalition partners in Lisbon.  Specifically, at the upcoming NATO summit in my hometown of Chicago, we’ll determine the next phase of transition.  This includes shifting to a support role next year, in 2013, in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014.  We’re going to complete this mission, and we’re going to do it responsibly.  And NATO will maintain an enduring commitment so that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for al Qaeda to attack our countries.

We also discussed the continuing threat posed by Iran’s failure to meet its international obligations.  On this we are fully united.  We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  We believe there is still time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution, and we’re going to keep coordinating closely with our P5-plus-1 partners.  At the same time, we’re going to keep up the pressure, with the strongest U.S. sanctions to date and the European Union preparing to impose an embargo on Iranian oil.  Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it — meet your international obligations or face the consequences.

We reaffirmed our commitment to support the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa.  British forces played a critical role in the mission to protect the Libyan people, and I want to commend David personally for the leadership role he plays in mobilizing international support for the transition in Libya.

We also discussed the horrific violence that the Assad regime continues to inflict on the people of Syria.  Right now, we’re focused on getting humanitarian aid to those in need.  We agreed to keep increasing the pressure on the regime — mobilizing the international community; tightening sanctions; cutting the regime’s revenues; isolating it politically, diplomatically, and economically.

Just as the regime and security forces continue to suffer defections, the opposition is growing stronger.  I’ll say it again:  Assad will leave power.  It’s not a question of if, but when.  And to prepare for that day, we’ll continue to support plans for a transition to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  More broadly, we recommitted ourselves and our leadership to the goal of global development.

Along with our international partners, we’ve saved countless lives from the famine in the Horn of Africa.  David, you’ve done an outstanding job in bringing the international community to support progress in Somalia, including lifesaving aid.  At the same time, we’re renewing our commitment to improve maternal health and preventable deaths of children, and supporting the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria so that we can realize our goal, and that’s the beginning of the end of AIDS.  And let me say that it’s a tribute to David’s leadership that the UK will be playing a leading role in the global partnership to strengthen the open government upon which human rights and development depend.

Finally, I’m very pleased that we’re bringing our two militaries, the backbone of our alliance, even closer.  As I told David, I can announce that next month, we intend to start implementing our long-awaited defense trade treaty with the UK.  This will put advanced technologies in the hands of our troops, and it will mean more jobs for workers in both our countries.  And we’re moving ahead with our joint initiative to care for our men and women in uniform.

For decades, our troops have stood together on the battlefield.  Now we’re working together for them when they come home — with new partnerships to help our wounded warriors recover, assist our veterans transition back to civilian life, and to support our remarkable military families.

So, David, thank you, as always, for being such an outstanding ally, partner and friend.  As I said this morning, because of our efforts, our alliance is as strong as it has ever been.  And Michelle and I are very much looking forward to hosting you and Samantha at tonight’s state dinner.  I look forward, as well, to welcoming you to Camp David and my hometown of Chicago in May, to carry on the work upon which both our nations and the world depend.

So, David, welcome, and thank you.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Well, thank you very much for that, Barack.  And thank you for last night’s sporting event.  I thought there was a link between that and the table tennis.  I remember it well.  And because I know America doesn’t like being on the losing side, I’m trying to make up to you with the gift of a table tennis table, which I hope will be there in the White House —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We should practice this afternoon.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  I think — well, I certainly need the practice.  One of these days I’ll get my own back by getting you to a cricket match and explaining the rules to you and some of the terminology that you’ll have to try and get straight, as I tried last night.  But thank you.

We’ve had excellent discussions today, and it was great that our teams had time to join those talks as well.  And, Barack, thank you, because there are some countries whose alliance is a matter of convenience, but ours is a matter of conviction.  Two states, as I said this morning, united for freedom and enterprise; working together, day in, day out, to defend those values and advance our shared interests.

That has been the fundamental business of this visit and we’ve just made important progress on four vital areas:  Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and economic growth.  And I want to take each in turn.

First, Afghanistan.  Recent days have reminded us just how difficult our mission is and how high the cost of this war has been for Britain, for America, and for Afghans themselves.  Britain has fought alongside America every day since the start.  We have 9,500 men and women still serving there.  More than 400 have given their lives.  And today, again, we commemorate each and every one of them.

But we will not give up on this mission because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for al Qaeda to launch attacks against us.  We won’t build a perfect Afghanistan, although let’s be clear, we are making some tangible progress with more markets open, more health centers working, more children going to school, more people able to achieve a basic standard of living and security.  But we can help ensure that Afghanistan is capable of delivering its own security without the need for large numbers of foreign troops.

We are now in the final phases of our military mission.  That means completing the training of the Afghan forces so that they can take over the tasks of maintaining security themselves. That transition to Afghan control, as agreed at Lisbon, is now well underway.  And next year, as the President said, in 2013, this includes shifting to a support role as Afghans take the lead.  This is an advance of Afghan forces taking full responsibility for security in 2014.  And as we’ve always said, we won’t be in a combat role after 2014.  At the same time, we will also back President Karzai in working towards an Afghan-led political settlement.

Second, a year on from the United Nations Security Council resolution on Libya, we agreed we must maintain our support for the people of the Arab world as they seek a better future.  And let me just say, in response to what you said, Mr. President — Barack — about Libya, that I’m very proud of the action that Britain and France and others took, but let us be absolutely clear.  None of that would have been possible without the overwhelming support and overwhelming force that the United States provided in the early stages of that campaign — exactly what you promised you would do — that actually made that intervention possible and has given that chance — that country a chance at prosperity and stability and some measure of democracy.

Most urgently now in Syria, we are working to get humanitarian aid to those who need it.  And Britain is today pledging an additional £2 million in food and medical care.  At the same time, we must properly document the evidence so that those guilty of crimes can be held to account, no matter how long it takes.

Above all, we must do everything we can to achieve a political transition that will stop the killing.  So we must maintain the strongest pressure on all those who are resisting change at all costs.  We’ll give our support to Kofi Annan, as he makes the case for the transition.  And we are ready to work with Russia and China for the same goal, including through a new United Nations Security Council resolution.

But we should be clear.  What we want is the quickest way to stop the killing.  That is through transition rather than revolution or civil war.  But if Assad continues, then civil war or revolution is the inevitable consequence.  So we will work with anyone who is ready to build a stable, inclusive, and democratic Syria for all Syrians.

Third, we’ve discussed Iran’s nuclear program.  The President’s tough, reasonable approach has united the world behind unprecedented sanctions pressure on Iran.  And Britain has played a leading role in helping to deliver an EU-wide oil embargo.  Alongside the financial sanctions being led by America, this embargo is dramatically increasing the pressure on the regime.

Now, we are serious about the talks that are set to resume, but the regime has to meet its international obligations.  If it refuses to do so, then Britain and America, along with our international partners, will continue to increase the political and economic pressure to achieve a peaceful outcome to this crisis.  The President and I have said nothing is off the table. That is essential for the safety of the region and the wider world.

Fourth, growth.  Both Britain and America are dealing with massive debts and deficits.  Of course, the measures we take in our domestic economies reflect different national circumstances, but we share the same goals — delivering significant deficit reduction over the medium term and stimulating growth.

One of the keys to growth is trade.  The EU and the U.S. together account for more than half of all global trade.  Foreign direct investment between Britain and America is the largest in the world.  It creates and sustains around a million jobs each side of the Atlantic, and it provides a strong foundation for bilateral trade worth nearly $200 billion a year.  So deepening trade and investment between us is crucial and can really help to stimulate growth.  Barack and I have agreed to prioritize work ahead of the G8 on liberalizing transatlantic trade and investment flows.

So we’ve had some very important discussions this morning, and I’m looking forward to continuing our talks at the G8 and the NATO summit, and to visiting you, Barack, at Camp David and in your hometown of Chicago.  Who knows what sport we will be able to go and see there?

As Barack has said, the relationship between Britain and America is the strongest that it has ever been.  And I believe that’s because we’re working together as closely as at any point in our history.  And together, I’m confident that we can help secure the future of our nations and the world for generations to come.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, David.

So we’ve got questions from each respective press corps.  We’re going to start with Ari Shapiro of NPR.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Given the extraordinarily difficult circumstances in Afghanistan from the last few weeks, I wonder what makes you confident that two years from now when the last troops leave it will be better than it is today.  And I wonder if you could also talk about the pace of withdrawal, whether you see something more gradual or speedier.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, you and the President take very different approaches to economic growth — whereas you emphasize more austerity measures, the President focuses more on stimulative measures.  And I wonder whether you could explain why you believe that your approach is likely to create more jobs than President Obama’s approach.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, on Afghanistan, I think both David and I understand how difficult this mission is because we’ve met with families whose sons or daughters or husbands or wives made the ultimate sacrifice.  We visit our wounded warriors and we understand the sacrifices that they’ve made there.

But as I indicated, we have made progress.  We’re seeing an Afghan national security force that is getting stronger and more robust and more capable of operating on its own.  And our goal, set in Lisbon, is to make sure that over the next two years, that Afghan security force continues to improve, enhance its capabilities, and so we’ll be prepared to provide for that country’s security when we leave.

We also think it’s important that there is a political aspect to this — that all the various factions and ethnic groups inside of Afghanistan recognize that it’s time to end 30 years of war.  And President Karzai has committed to a political reconciliation process.  We are doing what we can to help facilitate that.  Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Afghans to work together to try to arrive at a path to peace.  And we can’t be naïve about the difficulties that are going to be involved in getting there.

But if we maintain a steady, responsible transition process, which is what we’ve designed, then I am confident that we can put Afghans in a position where they can deal with their own security.  And we’re also underscoring, through what we anticipate to be a strategic partnership that’s been signed before we get to Chicago, that the United States, along with many other countries, will sustain a relationship with Afghanistan.  We will not have combat troops there, but we will be working with them both to ensure their security but also to ensure that their economy continues to improve.

There are going to be multiple challenges along the way.  In terms of pace, I don’t anticipate, at this stage, that we’re going to be making any sudden additional changes to the plan that we currently have.  We have already taken out 10,000 of our troops.  We’re slated to draw down an additional 23,000 by this summer.  There will be a robust coalition presence inside of Afghanistan during this fighting season to make sure that the Taliban understand that they’re not going to be able to regain momentum.

After the fighting season, in conjunction with all our allies, we will continue to look at how do we effectuate this transition in a way that doesn’t result in a steep cliff at the end of 2014, but rather is a gradual pace that accommodates the developing capacities of the Afghan national security forces.

Although you asked it to David, I want to make sure that I just comment quickly on the economic issues because this is a question that David and I have been getting for the last two years.  We always give the same answer, but I figure it’s worth repeating.  The United States and Great Britain are two different economies in two different positions.  Their banking sector was much larger than ours.  Their capacity to sustain debt was different than ours.  And so, as a consequence, each of us are going to be taking different strategies and employing different timing.

But our objectives are common, which is we want to make sure that we have a — we have governments that are lean, that are effective, that are efficient, that are providing opportunity to our people, that are properly paid for so that we’re not leaving it to the next generation.  And we want to make sure that ultimately our citizens in both our countries are able to pursue their dreams and opportunities by getting a good education and being able to start a small business, being able to find a job that supports their families and allows them to retire with dignity and respect.

And so this notion that somehow two different countries are going to have identical economic programs doesn’t take into account profound differences in position.  But the objectives, the goals, the values I think are the same.  And I’m confident that because of the resilience of our people and our businesses and our workers, our systems of higher education, that we are both countries that are incredibly well positioned to succeed in this knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  I very much agree with that.  I mean, there are differences because we’re not a reserve currency, so we have to take a different path.  But I think it would be wrong to think that Britain is just taking measures to reduce its deficit.  We’re also taking a series of measures to help promote growth.

Just before coming here, we took a series of steps to try and unblock and get moving our housing market, where we’ve cut corporation tax in our country to show that it’s a great destination for investment.  We’re investing in apprenticeships. So a series of steps have been taken.

But there are differences, as Barack has said, between the states of the two economy and the circumstances we face.  But we’re both trying to head in the same direction of growth and low deficits.  And actually, if you look at the U.S. plans for reducing the deficit over coming years, in many ways they are actually steeper than what we’re going to be doing in the UK.

So different starting points, different measures on occasions, but the same destination, and a very good shared understanding as we try to get there.

I’ve got Joey Jones, from Sky News.

Q    And to Mr. President, can I ask you both whether you have any information about an apparent car bombing at Camp Bastion this afternoon?  And on the general Afghan question, why do you think it is that people feel that you talk a good game but they don’t buy it?  Why do you think it is that the British and American people look at a situation that they think is, frankly, a mess — they see terrible sacrifice, they see two men who are unable to impose their wills — and they just are not persuaded by your arguments?

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Well, first of all, on what has happened at Camp Bastion, it is very early, details still coming through.  Obviously, we’ll want to examine and investigate exactly what has happened before making clear anything about it.

But the security of our people, of our troops, security of both our nation’s forces is absolutely the priority.  And if there are things that need to be done in the coming hours and days to keep them safer, be in no doubt we will do them.

On the broader issue of Afghanistan, I would make this point — if you compare where we are today with where we’ve been two, three years ago, the situation is considerably improved.  I think the U.S. surge and the additional UK troops we put in, particularly into Helmand Province, had a transformative effect. The level of insurgent attacks are right down.  The level of security is right up.  The capital of Helmand Province, Lashkar Gah, is now fully transitioned over to Afghan lead control.  The markets are open.  You’re able to do — take part in economic activity in that town, which simply wasn’t possible when I first visited it several years ago.

So, look, it’s still a very difficult situation.  There are many challenges we have to overcome.  But what’s happening in Afghanistan today is quite different to the situation we had three, four, five years ago.

Do I think we can get to a situation by the end of 2014 where we have a large Afghan national army, a large Afghan police force, both of which are pretty much on track — and that with the Afghan government, they’re capable of taking care of their own security in a way that doesn’t require large numbers of foreign troops, and that country isn’t a threat in the way that it was in the past in terms of a base for terrorism?  Yes, I think we can achieve that.

Now, it’s been very hard work.  The sacrifices have been very great.  But we have to keep reminding ourselves and everybody why we are there, what we are doing.  You have to go back and remember that the vast majority of terrorist plots that were affecting people in the UK, people in the U.S., came out of that country and that region.  That’s why we went in there; that’s why we’re there today.

It’s not some selfish, long-term strategic interest.  It’s simply that we want Afghanistan to be able to look after its own security with its own security forces so we are safe at home.  That’s the key.  That’s the message we need to keep explaining to people.  But I think what we’re trying to do by the end of 2014 is achievable and doable.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I concur with everything David said.  The only thing I would add — you asked why is it that poll numbers indicate people are interested in ending the war in Afghanistan. It’s because we’ve been there for 10 years, and people get weary, and they know friends and neighbors who have lost loved ones as a consequence of war.  No one wants war.  Anybody who answers a poll question about war saying enthusiastically, we want war, probably hasn’t been involved in a war.

But as David said, I think the vast majority of the American people and British understand why we went there.  There is a reason why al Qaeda is on its heels and has been decimated.  There’s a reason why Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants are not in a position to be able to execute plots against the United States or Great Britain.  There is a reason why it is increasingly difficult for those who are interested in carrying out transnational operations directed against our interests, our friends, our allies, to be able to do that — is because the space has shrunk and their capacity to operate is greatly diminished.

Now, as David indicated, this is a hard slog, this is hard work.  When I came into office there has been drift in the Afghanistan strategy, in part because we had spent a lot of time focusing on Iraq instead.  Over the last three years we have refocused attention on getting Afghanistan right.  Would my preference had been that we started some of that earlier?  Absolutely.  But that’s not the cards that were dealt.  We’re now in a position where, given our starting point, we’re making progress.  And I believe that we’re going to be able to make our — achieve our objectives in 2014.

Alister Bull.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister.  Mr. President, switching to Iran —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Can I just point out that somehow Alister gets to ask a question on behalf of the U.S. press corps — (laughter) — but he sounds like —

Q    It’s the special relationship.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Were you upset about that, Chuck?  (Laughter.)  Yes, what’s going on with that, Jay?  Come on, man. (Laughter.)  It’s a special relationship.

Q    It is a special relationship.  On Iran, do you believe that the six-power talks represent a last chance for the country to diffuse concerns over its nuclear program and avert military action?

And, Prime Minister, on Syria, how are you approaching the Russians to get them on board for a fresh Security Council resolution?  And do you believe President Bashar al-Assad ought to be tried as a war crime — a war criminal?

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  As David said, we have applied the toughest sanctions ever on Iran, and we’ve mobilized the international community with greater unity than we’ve ever seen. Those sanctions are going to begin to bite even harder this summer.  And we’re seeing significant effects on the Iranian economy.

So they understand the seriousness with which we take this issue.  They understand that there are consequences to them continuing to flout the international community.  And I have sent a message very directly to them publicly that they need to seize this opportunity of negotiations with the P5-plus-1 to avert even worse consequences for Iran in the future.

Do I have a guarantee that Iran will walk through this door that we’re offering them?  No.  In the past there has been a tendency for Iran in these negotiations with the P5-plus-1 to delay, to stall, to do a lot of talking but not actually move the ball forward.

I think they should understand that because the international community has applied so many sanctions, because we have employed so many of the options that are available to us to persuade Iran to take a different course, that the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking.

And as I said in a speech just a couple of weeks ago, I am determined not simply to contain Iran that is in possession of a nuclear weapon; I am determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — in part for the reasons that David mentioned.  It would trigger a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world.  It would raise nonproliferation issues that would carry significant risks to our national security interests.  It would embolden terrorists in the region who might believe that they could act with more impunity if they were operating under the protection of Iran.

And so this is not an issue that is simply in one country’s interests or two countries’ interests.  This is an issue that is important to the entire international community.  We will do everything we can to resolve this diplomatically, but ultimately, we’ve got to have somebody on the other side of the table who’s taking this seriously.  And I hope that the Iranian regime understands that; that this is their best bet for resolving this in a way that allows Iran to rejoin the community of nations and to prosper and feel secure themselves.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  On Syria, when you see what is happening in Homs and elsewhere, I think we need to appeal to people’s humanity to stop this slaughter, to get aid and assistance to those who’ve been affected, and to ratchet up the pressure on this dreadful regime.

But in the case of Russia, I think we should also appeal to their own interest.  It’s not in their interest to have this bloodied, broken, brutal regime butchering people nightly on the television screens.  The irony is that people in Syria often felt that the Russians were their friends, and many in the West they were more suspicious of.  Now they can see people in the West wanting to help them, raising their issues, calling for the world to act on their problems.  And we need to make sure that Russia joins with that.

So it’s going to take a lot of hard work.  It’s going to take a lot of patient diplomacy.  But I think it’s actually in Russia’s interest that we deal with this problem, that we achieve transition, and that we get peace and stability in Syria.  And that’s the appeal that we should make.

On the issue of holding people responsible — I do.  They’re not a signatory to the ICC, but what is being done in Homs — and I’ve spoken personally to one of the photographers who was stuck in Homs, when he got out to the UK — what he witnessed, what he saw is simply appalling and shouldn’t be allowed to stand in our world.

And that’s why Britain and others have sent monitors to the Turkish border and elsewhere to make sure we document these crimes, we write down what has been done so that no matter how long it takes — people should always remember that international law has got a long reach and a long memory, and the people who are leading Syria at the moment and committing these crimes need to know that.

Tom Bradby from ITN.

Q    MR. President, it’s great you’ve agreed to learn about cricket.  I noticed the Prime Minister neglected to tell you that a test match usually takes five days.  (Laughter.)  So it’s going to be a long trip.  (Laughter.)

On the serious subject of Syria. you say you want Assad to go.  You wanted Qaddafi to go, and he didn’t for a long, long time.  So could you just answer specifically, have you discussed today the possibility of a no-fly zone?  Have you discussed how you might implement it?  Have you discussed how you would degrade the Syrian defenses?  Have you discussed time scales on any of those issues?

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  What I’d say, Tom, is that our teams work incredibly closely together on this issue, and the focus right now is, as I said, on trying to achieve transition, not trying to foment revolution.  We think that the fastest way to end the killing, which is what we all want to see, is for Assad to go.  So the way we should try to help bring that about is through diplomatic pressure, sanctions pressure, political pressure, the pressure that Kofi Annan can bring to bear.  That is where our focus is.

Of course, our teams, all the time, as I put it, kick the tires, push the system, ask the difficult questions — what are the other options, what are the other things that we could do?  And it’s right that we do that.  But they’re not without their difficulties and complications, as everybody knows.  So the focus is transition and all the things that we can to do bring that pressure to bear.  And that has been the focus of our discussions.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’d echo everything that David said.  Our military plans for everything.  That’s part of what they do.  But I was very clear during the Libya situation that this was unique. We had a clear international mandate; there was unity around the world on that.  We were able to execute a plan in a relatively short timeframe that resulted in a good outcome.

But each country is different.  As David just mentioned with respect to Syria, it is a extremely complicated situation.  The best thing that we can do right now is to make sure that the  international community continues to unify around the fact that what the Syrian regime is doing is unacceptable.  It is contrary to every international norm that we believe in.

And for us to provide strong support to Kofi Annan, to continue to talk to the Russians, the Chinese and others about why it is that they need to stand up on behalf of people who are being shelled mercilessly, and to describe to them why it is in their interest to join us in a unified international coalition — that’s the most important work that we can do right now.

There may be some immediate steps that we’ve discussed just to make sure that humanitarian aid is being provided in a robust way, and to make sure that a opposition unifies along principles that ultimately would provide a clear platform for the Syrian people to be able to transition to a better form of government.

But when we see what’s happening on television, our natural instinct is to act.  One of the things that I think both of us have learned in every one of these crises — including in Libya  — is that it’s very important for us to make sure that we have thought through all of our actions before we take those steps.  And that’s not just important for us; it’s also important for the Syrian people — because, ultimately, the way the international community mobilizes itself, the signals we send, the degree to which we can facilitate a more peaceful transition or a soft landing, rather than a hard landing that results in civil war and, potentially, even more deaths — the people who are going to ultimately be most affected by those decisions are the people in Syria itself.  All right?

Thank you very much, everybody.  Enjoy the day.  See some of you tonight.

END
1:03 P.M. EDT

History Buzz November 21, 2011: David Cannadine: Leave UK history curriculum alone but teach it for longer, says U.S. historian

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY EDUCATION NEWS

Towards the end of a typically barnstorming performance at the Hay Festival in May last year, during which Niall Ferguson had rubbished the way history was taught in this country, the spotlight was turned towards the audience to reveal that the new education secretary, Michael Gove, had snuck into the event and was sitting somewhere near the back. And after a few not entirely convincing exchanges of surprise along the lines of “Fancy seeing you here!”, “You’re marvellous”, “No, you’re marvellous”, Gove offered Ferguson a job on the spot to help reform the history curriculum….

Wisely, perhaps, Gove chose to consult not just Ferguson. Instead, using the contacts book that mysteriously opens up for new ministers, he also invited several other well-known historians, including Simon Schama and Richard Evans, to contribute their suggestions for the wholesale reform of history teaching. Somewhere not far into the process, he also asked David Cannadine, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton – and, with Ferguson and Schama, yet another of the UK’s top academic exports to the US – for his thoughts. Eighteen months down the line, Gove might rather be wishing he hadn’t.

Like Gove and Ferguson, Cannadine has also taken a profound interest in how history is taught in state schools; unlike them, he didn’t think that relying on hearsay and ideology was the best way to decide public policy. “There had been a great many theories about how history had been taught over time,” Cannadine says, “but no one had done any detailed research to provide the evidence to back them up.” So about two and a half years ago Cannadine, along with two research fellows, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon, funded by the Linbury Trust and the Institute of Historical Research, set out to find the empirical data, and this week their findings are published in The Right Kind of History….READ MORE

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)

Full Text May 25, 2011: President Barack Obama & British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in Joint Press Conference in London, United Kingdom

Lancaster House, London, United Kingdom

President Obama & Prime Minister Cameron Joint Press Availability
May 25, 2011 1:33 PM

President Obama & Prime Minister Cameron Joint Press Availability

12:56 P.M. BST

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you, and apologies for keeping you waiting. It’s a pleasure to welcome President Obama here today.

We’ve just been having a barbecue in the gardens of Number 10 Downing Street with some of our service — armed-service personnel from the United States and from the UK. And it was a great reminder of the incredible debt that we owe all of them and their families for their service, for their sacrifice, for all they do to keep us safe. It was a great event and it was wonderful to have Barack and Michelle there.

It was also probably the first time in history, as we stood behind that barbecue, that I can say a British Prime Minister has given an American President a bit of a grilling. So I’m going to hold onto that.

Over the past year I’ve got to know the President well. And whether it’s in routine situations like sitting round the G8 table, or the slightly less routine of getting a phone call in the middle of the night, I’ve come to value not just his leadership and courage, but the fact that to all the big international issues of our time, he brings thoughtful consideration and reason.

And I know that today, Mr. President, you’ll be thinking of the dreadful tornado in Missouri and all those who’ve lost livelihoods and lost their lives and loved ones. And our hearts in Britain go out to all those people, too.

Barack and I know well the shared history of our countries. From the beaches of Normandy to the Imjin River, our soldiers have fought together. From labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Cambridge, England, our scientists have decoded DNA and cured diseases together. And in millions of interactions every day, including our massive business relationship, our people forge friendships together.

That is what makes this relationship special. But what makes it essential is that it’s not just about history or sentiment; it is a living, working partnership. It is essential to our security and it’s essential for our prosperity.

And I feel every day just how important this partnership is. The President and I, together with my Deputy Prime Minister, have just had some excellent discussions. We’ve been talking today about the two things we care about most — getting our people jobs and keeping our people safe. Because every night millions of British and American people take the same worries to bed with them. They’re asking if they can find a good job, if they’re going to get a paycheck next month, and if there will be work for their children when they grow up.

The stark truth of the world today is that no country is owed a living. We’ve got to pay our way and we’ve got to earn our way. And that is what the President and I are determined to do. Barack and I did not come into politics to cut public spending, but neither did we seek office to see our great economies decline or to land our children with unsustainable debts. And that is why in the second half of this decade, we’re making sure that debt ratios will be falling on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the same time, we’re investing in our roads and railways, in science and innovation, and above all, in our young people. And down the line, the success of all this won’t be measured in export figures or trade flows; it will be in the feelings of the factory worker, whether they’re in Phoenix or the shopkeeper in Liverpool or the engineer in Ohio — the people who know if they work hard, then prosperity will be there for them and the promise of a better life there for their children.

As well as the economy, the President and I had some very good discussions on security. Now, Americans and Brits, you don’t need to explain terrorism to one another. Both our people have suffered at its hands, and indeed they have died together.

My wife Samantha was in Manhattan on 9/11, and I’ll never forget the five hours of trying to get hold of her. And she’ll never forget the New Yorkers that she met that day or the sense of solidarity that she felt that day and that we have felt ever since that day. And today, as we come up to its tenth anniversary, we should remember the spirit of that city and the sympathy we feel with those who lost their loved ones.

Now, there are those who say that this terrorist threat is beyond our control, and we passionately believe that is wrong. We can defeat al Qaeda, and the events of recent months give us an opportunity to turn the tide on their terror once and for all.

I believe there are three actions we must take. First, we must continue to destroy their terrorist network, and I congratulate the President on his operation against bin Laden. This was not just a victory for justice, but a strike right at the heart of international terrorism.

In this vital effort, we must continue to work with Pakistan. People are asking about our relationship, so we need to be clear. Pakistan has suffered more from terrorism than any country in the world. Their enemy is our enemy. So, far from walking away, we’ve got to work even more closely with them.

At the same time, this is a vital year in Afghanistan. British and American forces are fighting side by side in Helmand, right at the heart of this operation. We’ve broken the momentum of the insurgency, and even in the Taliban’s heartland, in Kandahar and central Helmand, they’re on the back foot. Now is the moment to step up our efforts to reach a political settlement. The Taliban must make a decisive split from al Qaeda, give up violence, and join a political process that will bring lasting peace to that country. We are agreed to give this the highest priority in the months ahead.

Second, we must reach a conclusion to the Arab-Israel peace process. Again, I congratulated the President on his recent speech on the Middle East, which was bold, it was visionary, and it set out what is needed in the clearest possible terms — an end to terror against Israelis and the restoration of dignity to the Palestinians; two states living side by side and in peace.

Yes, the road has been, and will be, long and arduous, but the prize is clear. Conclude the peace process and you don’t just bring security to the region; you deny extremists one of their most profound and enduring recruiting sergeants, weakening their calling and crippling their cause. That is why whatever the difficulties, we must continue to press for a solution.

Our third action must be to help elevate the changes in North Africa and the Arab world from a moment in history to a turning point in history. We’ve seen some extraordinary things — protesters braving bullets, bloggers toppling dictators, people taking to the streets and making their own history. If global politics is about spreading peace and prosperity, then this is a once-in-a-generation moment to grab hold of.

It is not a time for us to shrink back and think about our own issues and interests. This is our issue and this is massively in our interests. Those people in Tahrir Square and Tripoli just want what we have — a job and a voice. And we all share in their success or failure. If they succeed, there is new hope for those living there and there is the hope of a better and safer world for all of us. But if they fail, if that hunger is denied, then some young people in that region will continue to listen to the poisonous narrative of extremism.

So the President and I are agreed we will stand with those who work for freedom. This is the message we’ll take to the G8 tomorrow when we push for a major program of economic and political support for those countries seeking reform. And this is why we mobilized the international community to protect the Libyan people from Colonel Qaddafi’s regime, why we’ll continue to enforce U.N. resolutions with our allies, and why we restate our position once more: It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi still in power. He must go.

In all of these actions, we must be clear about our ambitions. Barack and I came of age in the 1980s and ‘90s. We saw the end of the Cold War and the victory over communism. We saw the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and the world coming together to liberate that country. Throughout it all, we saw Presidents and Prime Ministers standing together for freedom.

Today, we feel just as passionately about extending freedom as those who came before us; but we also know that idealism without realism does no good for anyone. We have learned the lessons of history. Democracy is built from the ground up. You’ve got to work with the grain of other cultures, and not against them. Real change takes time.

And it’s because of this we share the view that our partnership will not just continue, but it will get stronger. And this is a partnership that goes beyond foreign affairs. At home, we have similar goals — to bring more responsibility to our societies, and to bring transparency and accountability to our governments. In all these ambitions, our countries will continue to learn from each other and work with each other.

And as ever, it has been a pleasure to talk to the President, and an honor to have him with us today.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, David. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. I am very pleased to be back in the United Kingdom. I note that you have arranged for typical London weather these past two days, and I am very grateful for that.

I want to thank Her Majesty the Queen, and the British people for the extraordinary welcome that has been extended to me and Michelle. It’s a shining example of the genuine warmth and affection that our two nations feel towards one another.

Since David took office last spring, I believe we’ve now met or spoken at least two dozen times. We may be leaders from different political traditions, but on a whole host of issues we see eye to eye. We even took the same side in a epic match of doubles table tennis against some local students yesterday, and we won’t rehash the results of that.

The relationship between our two countries is one that’s not just based on warm sentiment or common history, although those things exist. It’s built on shared ideals and shared values. As David said, it is a special relationship and an essential relationship. I believe that it is stronger than it has ever been, and I’m committed to making sure that it stays that way.

The successful meetings we’ve had and the joint initiatives we’re announcing today represent the depths and breadth of our relationship. We discussed our efforts to strengthen the global recovery and create good jobs for our people. The investment relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is the largest in the world, one that accounts for nearly 1 million jobs in each of our economies. We believe we can make that relationship even stronger with deeper cooperation in areas critical to our future prosperity, like higher education and science and innovation; areas critical to our national security like cyber crime; and areas vital to the stability of the world, including international development.

During our discussions today we reviewed our progress in Afghanistan, where our brave servicemen and women have fought side by side to break the Taliban’s momentum and where we are preparing to turn a corner. We reaffirmed the importance of beginning the transition to Afghan lead for security this year and completing that transition by 2014.

We discussed the opportunity that exists for promoting reconciliation and a political settlement, which must be an Afghan-led process. President Karzai has made it clear that he will talk to anyone who is willing to end the violence, split with al Qaeda, and accept the Afghan constitution. And we welcome the positive cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on that front.

At the same time, the Prime Minister and I both agree that our nations have a long-term interest in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a launching pad for attacks against our people. So alongside our NATO allies and partners, we’re committed to a strong and enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan.

As historic change unfolds across the Middle East and North Africa, we agree that the pursuit of self-determination must be driven by the peoples of the region and not imposed from the outside. But we are both committed to doing everything that we can to support peoples who reach for democracy and leaders who implement democratic reform.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss with our G8 partners how those of us in the wider international community can best support nations that make the reforms necessary to build a framework for democracy, freedom, and prosperity for their people.

At the same time, we will continue to strongly oppose the use of violence against protesters and any efforts to silence those who yearn for freedom and dignity and basic human rights. And that’s one of the reasons that we are working together in Libya, alongside with our NATO allies and partners, to protect the Libyan people. And we will continue those operations until Qaddafi’s attacks on civilians cease. Time is working against Qaddafi and he must step down from power and leave Libya to the Libyan people.

We also discussed the situation in Syria, where the Syrian people have shown great courage in their demands for a democratic transition. The United States welcomes the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on President Assad, and we’re increasing pressure on him and his regime in order to end his policy of oppression and begin the change that people seek.

We discussed Yemen, where the Yemeni people call for greater opportunity and prosperity and a nation that is more unified and more secure, and we expressed our joint concern of the deteriorating situation on the ground there. We applauded the leadership of the Gulf Cooperation Council in seeking an orderly and peaceful resolution to the crisis, and we call on President Saleh to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power.

And at a time when so many in the region are casting off the burdens of the past, we agree that the push for a lasting peace that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. I appreciate the Prime Minister’s support for the principles that I laid out last week on borders and security, which can provide a sound basis from which the two sides can negotiate.

As increasing tensions in the Abyei region threaten to derail Sudan’s comprehensive peace agreement, we’re working closely together to encourage the parties to recommit to a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and calling on the rapid reinforcement of the U.N.’s peacekeeping presence in the region.
We also reviewed our close cooperation when it comes to countering terrorist threats, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery to states like Iran, and our unrelenting efforts to keep our people safe.

And finally, we launched a joint initiative to exchange the best ideas and practices when it comes to supporting our veterans and our military families.

Today, before we came here, Michelle and I joined David and Samantha for a outstanding barbecue at Number 10 for active-duty members of our militaries, along with their spouses, who make extraordinary sacrifices as well. It was a wonderful event and a moving reminder of the long line of American and British service members who’ve made heavy and heroic sacrifices in the joint defense of our shared values that our people hold so dear.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you not only for the barbecue but for the opportunity to spend this very productive time at Number 10 with you and your team. I enjoy my visits here, as always, and I have confidence that our special relationship will continue to grow even stronger in the months and years ahead. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you, Barack. Thank you very much.

Nick Robinson from the BBC.

Q Thank you very much indeed. Prime Minister, can you confirm that you plan to escalate the war in Libya by sending ground attack helicopters? And, Mr. President, can you confirm that United States will sit that particular mission out?

And a general question for you, if I could. You’ve talked about an old war in Afghanistan and a new one in Libya. Is your partnership really that different than the one between Bush and Blair?

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Well, thank you for that. Lots of questions in there. First of all, the President and I agree that we should be turning up the heat in Libya. I believe the pressure is on that regime. You see it in the fact that the rebels have successfully liberated much of Misurata. You see it in the success in other parts of the country. You see it in the strength of the coalition. You see it in the growth of the National Transitional Council. So I believe we should be turning up that pressure.

And on Britain’s part, we will be looking at all of the options for turning up that pressure, obviously within the terms of U.N. Resolution 1973, because we believe we need to keep enforcing that resolution, protecting civilians, pressurizing that regime so that the Libyan people have a chance to decide their own future. And within that, those are the options we’ll look at.

You asked the question about this relationship and past relationships. I think every relationship between a President and a Prime Minister is different. I would say both of us strongly believe in the special relationship. We both called it an essential relationship. But we believe we have — as I said in my speech — we have to learn the lessons of history, about how best we promote the values that we share.

And that means, yes, going with the grain of other cultures; it means, yes, having a patient understanding that building democracy takes time and you have to work on the building blocks of democracy, and not believe this all can be done in an instant. But I believe in that partnership we’re extremely strong together in wanting to see the same outcomes, whether that’s in Afghanistan, where we want to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that no longer requires the presence of foreign troops to keep it free from terrorism, and we want to see a Libya where people have the chance to decide their own future.

But we are doing things in a different way. We have ruled out occupying forces, invading armies. We are doing what we can to enforce Resolution 1973 and allowing the Libyan people to choose their own future. And we’re very committed to doing that work together.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I do think that we’ve made enormous progress in Libya. We have saved lives as a consequence of our concerted actions. I think it is important to note that we did so under a U.N. mandate and as part of a broad-based international coalition that includes Arab countries. And I absolutely agree that given the progress that has been made over the last several weeks, that Qaddafi and his regime need to understand that there will not be a letup in the pressure that we are applying. And the United Kingdom, the United States, and our other partners are putting a wide range of resources within — consistent with the U.N. mandate — in order to achieve that pressure. And I think we will ultimately be successful.

The goal is to make sure that the Libyan people can make a determination about how they want to proceed, and that they’ll be finally free of 40 years of tyranny and they can start creating the institutions required for self-determination.

So in terms of historical analogies, I just want to underscore this is not the United Kingdom and the United States alone. We have a broad range of partners under an international mandate designed to save lives and ensure that we did not have the sort of massacre that would lead us then to look back and say to ourselves, why did we stand by and do nothing.

With respect to Afghanistan, similarly, we have a broad-based international mandate and a broad-based international coalition designed to make sure that Afghanistan does not serve as a base for attacks against our people. We’ve discussed, consistent with what we said in Lisbon during our NATO summit, that this will be a year of transition because of the work that we’ve done and the enormous sacrifices that both our militaries have given. We are in a position now to transition, to start transitioning to an Afghan-led security process. And at the same time, we’re going to be engaging in the sort of diplomatic work that is required for an ultimate political solution to the problems there. And I’m confident that we can achieve it.

I think that there’s no doubt that the United States and the United Kingdom have a unique relationship. And that is going to be consistent regardless of who the President and the Prime Minister is, and it’s going to be consistent regardless of what parties we come from. There’s so much that binds us together that it is not surprising that we are typically, on the international stage, going to be working together as opposed to at cross purposes.

But as David mentioned, I think that the one thing that we have learned is that even as we promote the values and ideals that we care about, even as we make sure that our security interests are met, that we are using military power in a strategic and careful way; that we are making sure that as we promote democracy and human rights, that we understand the limits of what the military alone can achieve; and that we’re mindful that ultimately these regions are going to be — that the fate of these regions are going to be determined by the people there themselves, and that we’re going to have to work in partnership with them.

And that I think is the best example of alliance leadership and it’s something that I’m very proud to be a part of.

Julie Pace.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve said that Muammar Qaddafi’s exit from Libya is inevitable and that the U.S. will continue with the campaign until his attacks stop. Does that also mean that you will commit the U.S. to that campaign until Qaddafi is removed from power? And would you be willing to commit additional U.S. resources if that meant speeding up Qaddafi’s exit?

And, Prime Minister Cameron, do you believe that the U.S. and other NATO allies should increase their role in the Libya campaign, as other British lawmakers have suggested? Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have said from the outset that our goal, the reason that we intervened in Libya, was to protect the people on the ground and to give the Libyan people the space that they needed in order to bring about a change towards democracy. And I also was very clear in terms of how we were going to participate.
We moved very heavily on the front end, disabling their air defense systems, carrying the lion’s share of the burden when it came to setting the stage for NATO operations; and then that — once the transfer took place to NATO command and control, that at that point our primary role would be a whole range of support that utilized America’s unique capabilities. That’s what we’re doing. I also ruled out us putting any ground forces in Libya.

We have proceeded consistent with that. There are times where, for example, with our Predator capabilities, we have a unique capacity that we’ve brought to bear, and we will continue to do that. And the Prime Minister and I consistently discuss on a regular basis what can we all do to make sure that that pressure continues to apply.

I do think that is it going to be difficult to meet the U.N. mandate of security for the Libyan people as long as Qaddafi and his regime are still attacking them. And so we are strongly committed to seeing the job through, making sure that, at minimum, Qaddafi doesn’t have the capacity to send in a bunch of thugs to murder innocent civilians and to threaten them.

I believe that we have built enough momentum that as long as we sustain the course that we’re on, that he is ultimately going to step down. And we will continue to work with our partners to achieve that.

So we have not put forward any artificial timeline in terms of how long this will take. My belief is, is that the more resolute that we are now, the more effective the coalition is in rallying all the resources that are available to it, that we’re going to be able to achieve our mission in a timely fashion.

One last point, and this speaks to the issue of whether there are other additional U.S. capabilities that could be brought to bear. David and I both agree that we cannot put boots on the ground in Libya. Once you rule out ground forces, then there are going to be some inherent limitations to our air strike operations. It means that the opposition on the ground in Libya is going to have to carry out its responsibilities. And we’re going to have to do effective coordination — and we are doing that — with the opposition on the ground.

But I think that there may be a false perception that there are a whole bunch of secret super-effective air assets that are in a warehouse somewhere that could just be pulled out and that would somehow immediately solve the situation in Libya. That’s not the case.

The enormous sacrifices that are being made by the British, by the French, by ourselves, by the Danes and others — we are bringing to bear an array of air power that has made a huge difference. But ultimately this is going to be a slow, steady process in which we’re able to wear down the regime forces and change the political calculations of the Qaddafi regime to the point where they finally realize that they’re not going to control this country; the Libyan people are going to control this country. And as long as we remain resolute, I think we’re going to be able to achieve that mission.

But there’s not a whole host of new and different assets that somehow could be applied — partly because we’ve been extraordinarily successful in avoiding significant civilian casualties. And that’s been part of our goal, that’s been part of our mission, is making sure that we are targeting regime forces in a way that does not result in enormous collateral damage. And that means we may have to sometimes be more patient than people would like. But ultimately I think it promises greater success, and it sustains our coalition and support for it, not just here but in the Arab world as well.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you. I so agree that the two key things here are patience and persistence. That is what the alliance is demonstrating and needs to go on demonstrating.

Julie, I’d just make two points. First of all, I think the President and I completely agree on this point of, of course, the U.N. resolution is not about regime change; the U.N. resolution is about protecting civilians from attack and taking all necessary measures to do so. With that said, most political leaders, including the two here, have said it’s hard to see how you implement U.N. Resolution 1973 with Qaddafi still in control of his country, which is why we’ve been so clear about Qaddafi needing to go and needing to leave Libya.

In terms of the U.S. role, I would make this point, which I’m not sure is widely understood in Britain or in Europe — is already a huge number of the sorties and the support and the air assets that are actually bringing the pressure to bear are U.S. assets. There was this enormous effort at the beginning, as the President said, but also a sustained amount of assets that have been used.

And as the President said, there are also the unique assets and capabilities that the U.S. has that others don’t have that are so vital. And as he said, we all have to ask what is it that we can all do to make sure the pressure is really brought to bear. That is what the British are doing, the French are doing, the Americans are doing. And I know we’ll discuss this in the margins of the G8.

But I’d just make this point, as well. As well as the military pressure, don’t underestimate the pressure of building up the opposition, the contacts we have with the National Transitional Council, the fact that they are opening offices and building support and strength from the allies. Don’t underestimate the extent to which we’re now cutting off oil products to the regime because they’re using them in their tanks and their other military equipment — and also the other steps that I know Americans and others are taking to try and release Libyan assets back into the hands of the National Transitional Council and recognizing them as the right interlocutor for us to speak to.

So in all those ways, we can keep this pressure up over the coming period while showing patience and persistence at the same time.

Tom Bradby from ITV.

Q Mr. President, you’ve talked about the need for robust action on your country’s deficit and debt positions. Do you agree with the Prime Minister’s supporters that he led the way on the issue, or do you feel that in fact he has traveled too far and too fast?

And could I just ask you both, as a sidebar, this time last year we talked about the case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon, on which the Prime Minister has expressed very clear views. You said you would work together to find a solution. So have you found one?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, on your second question, Mr. McKinnon, we have proceeded through all the processes required under our extradition agreements. It is now in the hands of the British legal system. We have confidence in the British legal system coming to a just conclusion. And so we await resolution and will be respectful of that process.

With respect to how we deal with debt and deficits, I said two years ago, the first time I came here, in April of 2009, the first G20 summit that I attended, that each country is different and each country is going to have to make a range of decisions about how to — at that time — dig our way out of the worst recession that we’d experienced since the 1930s, at the same time that we put our countries on a path of sustainable growth that ultimately results in jobs and prosperity for our people and a growing middle class across the board.

And we’ve succeeded in the first part, which is to yank the world economy out of recession, and that was in large part due to concerted action between the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

Now we’ve got that other challenge, which is how do we sustain growth in a way that’s responsible and responsive to the needs of our people. That requires us to continue to make investments in education, science, technology, infrastructure — things that help our economies grow. But it also means governments that live within their means.

And obviously the nature and role of the public sector in the United Kingdom is different than it has been in the United States. The pressures that each country are under from world capital markets are different. The nature of the debt and deficits are different. And as a consequence, the sequencing or pace may end up being different.

But the one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is David and I want to arrive at the same point; a point in which we’re making sure that our governments are doing what they need to do to ensure broad-based prosperity, but doing so in a responsible way that doesn’t mortgage our futures and leave a mountain of debt to future generations.

And the other point I think David and I would agree on is that this is going to be a constant process of trying some things, making adjustments. There are going to be opportunities for us to make investments. There are going to be other areas where we think those were good ideas at the time, programs that were started with the best of intentions and it turns out they’re not working as well as they should. If a program is not working well, we should get rid of it and put that money into programs that are working well. It means that we’ve got to make sure that we take a balanced approach and that there’s a mix of cuts, but also thinking about how do we generate revenue so that there’s a match between money going out and money coming in.

And each country is going to have to go through what is a difficult and painful process. What I’m confident about is that we’re going to be able to come out of this stronger than we were before. And I think that both the people of the United Kingdom and the people of the United States want to see a government that’s reflective of their values — the fact that they take their responsibilities seriously, they pay their bills, they make sure that their families are cared for, they make sacrifices where necessary in order to ensure that their children and their grandchildren are succeeding. And they want those same values reflected in their government, and I think that both our countries are going to be able to achieve that.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you. First of all, in the case of Gary McKinnon, I understand the widespread concern about this case, and it’s not so much about the alleged offense, which everyone knows is a very serious offense; it’s about the issue of the individual and the way they’re treated and the operation of the legal system, and as the President said, making sure that legal system operates properly and carefully.

The case is currently in front of the Home Secretary, who has to consider reports about Gary’s health and his well-being, and it’s right that she does that in a proper and effectively quasi-judicial way.

I totally understand the anguish of his mother and his family about this issue. We must follow the proper processes and make sure this case is dealt with in the proper way. And I’m sure that that is the case.

On the issue of deficit reduction, I mean, I remember when we also spoke about this at the G20, but even before that, when you first came here when you were running as candidate. And I completely agree with Barack that each country is different and has different circumstances. I mean, Britain does not have a reserve currency. We’re not in the same position as the U.S. with the dollar. And I think it was necessary for us to set out on the path of deficit reduction without delay after the election.

And I would argue the proof of that for the UK has been what has happened in capital markets. And as the President just said, capital markets treat different countries differently. Well, in the European context, what you’ve seen since the election is actually market interest rates in the UK, bond yields effectively come down. Whereas you look at what’s happened in Greece or in Portugal or other European countries, you’ve often seen those bond rates increase. That, in my view, is the risk we would have run if we had not set out on the path of deficit reduction.

But each country is different, but when I look across now and see what the U.S. and the UK are currently contemplating for the future, it’s actually relatively similar program in terms of trying to get on top of our deficits and make sure that debt is falling as a share of GDP. Because as the President said, we in the end share a very similar set of values about not wanting to load responsibility for these debts on our children and not wanting to shuck our own responsibilities for straightening out our own public finances.

So as he said, we may take slightly different paths but we want to end up in the same place. It’s an extremely difficult thing to have to do — dealing with your public finances, getting on top of your deficit — but it’s absolutely essential. And we’ve talked a lot today about national security. In the end, there’s no national security unless you have economic security. And that’s an argument that we have to make and win every day here in the United Kingdom.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christi Parsons, last question.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday in his speech before Congress, the Israeli Prime Minister referred to the Palestinian right of return as “fantasy.” And I wonder if that’s a sentiment you agree with in any way. And also, if you could outline for us a little bit how you — your views on that issue, as well the future of Jerusalem.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, if I may, you said at the top of this press conference that you consider the President’s principles outlined last week to be bold and visionary and, in fact, what needs to be done. And I wonder if that means it makes you less open to the Palestinian campaign for recognition of statehood before the U.N. this fall. Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: My goal, as I set out in the speech I gave last week, is a Jewish state of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors, and a sovereign state of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future. I am confident that can be achieved. It is going to require wrenching compromise by both sides.

Over the last decade, when negotiators have talked about how to achieve that outcome, there have been typically four issues that have been raised. One is the issue of what would the territorial boundaries of a new Palestinian state look like? Number two, how could Israel feel confident that its security needs were being met? Number three, how would the issue of Palestinian refugees be resolved? And number four, the issue of Jerusalem.

The last two questions are extraordinarily emotional. They go deep into how both the Palestinians and the Jewish people think about their own identities. Ultimately they are going to be resolved by the two parties. I believe that those two issues can be resolved if there is the prospect and the promise that we can actually get to a Palestinian state and a secure Jewish state of Israel.

And what my speech did was to say, let’s begin the work with the very hard-nosed but transparent and less — perhaps less emotional issues of what would the territorial boundaries look like and what would Israeli security requirements entail.

And I believe that if the Palestinians and the Israelis begin talking about those two issues and get some resolution, they can start seeing on the horizon the possibility of a peace deal, they will then be in a position to have a — what would be a very difficult conversation about refugees and about Jerusalem.

That’s not something that any party from the outside is going to be able to impose on them. But what I am absolutely certain of is that if they’re not talking, we’re not going to make any progress, and neither the Israeli people or the Palestinian people will be well served.

Let me just make one more comment about the prospects for a serious peace negotiation. The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has not renounced violence. Hamas is an organization that has thus far rejected the recognition of Israel as a legitimate state. It is very difficult for Israelis to sit across the table and negotiate with a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory.

So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well. And they are going to have to resolve in a credible way the meaning of this agreement between Fatah and Hamas if we’re going to have any prospect for peace moving forward.

As for the United Nations, I’ve already said — I said in the speech last week and I will repeat — the United Nations can achieve a lot of important work. What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace.

And so I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state. And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world.

Q Do you agree with the comparison between Hamas and al Qaeda?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I believe that Hamas, in its own description of its agenda, has not renounced violence and has not recognized the state of Israel. And until they do, it is very difficult to expect Israelis to have a serious conversation, because ultimately they have to have confidence that a Palestinian state is one that is going to stick to its — to whatever bargain is struck; that if they make territorial compromises, if they arrive at a peace deal, that, in fact, that will mean the safety and security of the Jewish people and of Israel. And Hamas has not shown any willingess to make the kinds of concessions that Fatah has, and it’s going to be very difficult for us to get a Palestinian partner on the other side of the table that is not observing the basic Quartet principles that we both believe — that both David and I believe in — the need to renounce violence, recognize the state of Israel, abide by previous agreements.

That is I think going to be a critical aspect of us being able to jumpstart this process once again.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you. I described the President’s speech as bold and visionary because I think it did an absolutely vital thing, which was to talk about ’67 borders with land swaps. So as the President said, if you think about what both sides absolutely need to know to start this process, those two things are in place.

First, that the Israelis need to know that America and her allies like Britain will always stand up for Israel’s right to exist, right to defend herself, right to secure borders. That is absolutely vital that the Israelis know that their security is absolutely key to us. They need to know that.

But the second thing that needs to be done is the Palestinians need to know that we understand their need for dignity and for a Palestinian state, using the ’67 borders as land swaps as the start point. That is I think what is so key to the speech that’s been made. So neither side now has I believe the excuse to stand aside from talks.

On the specific issue of U.N. recognition, the President is entirely right that in the end the Palestinian state will only come about if the Palestinians and the Israelis can agree to it coming about. That is the vital process that has to take place.

As for Britain, we don’t believe the time for making a decision about the U.N. resolution — there isn’t even one there at the moment — is right yet. We want to discuss this within the European Union and try and maximize the leverage and pressure that the European Union can bring, frankly, on both sides to get this vital process moving.

Both of us in recent days have been to the Republic of Ireland. I went on part of the Queen’s historic trip, and I know Barack has just returned from a very successful trip. And when you look at what had to happen in Northern Ireland in order for peace to come about, is there has to be some recognition and understanding on each side of the other side.

And that is what I think is so crucial in what the President is saying about Hamas and Palestinian unity — which should in some ways be a welcome development if the Palestinians can have one group of people, but not unless those group of people are prepared to accept some of what the people they’re going to negotiate with desperately need.

And that, in the end, is why the peace process in Northern Ireland was successful, because both sides had some understanding of what the other side needed for some dignity and for some peace. And that is what we badly need right now in the Middle East. And I think the President’s speech has been a good step forward in really helping to make that happen. Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let me just pick up on what David said about Ireland. It was inspiring to see, after hundreds of years of conflict, people so rapidly reorienting how they thought about themselves, how they thought about those who they thought once were enemies. Her Majesty’s visit had a profound effect on the entire country. And so it was an enormous source of hope. And I think it’s a reminder that as tough as these things are, if you stick to it, if people of goodwill remain engaged, that ultimately even the worst of conflicts can be resolved.

But it is going to take time. And I remain optimistic, but not naively so, that this is going to be hard work and each side is going to have to look inward to determine what is in their long-term interests, and not just what are in their short-term tactical interests, which tends to perpetuate a conflict as opposed to solving it.

And finally let me — also, David, just very briefly, thank you for expressing your condolences and concern about the people of Missouri. We have been battered by some storms not just this week but over the last several months, the largest death toll and devastation that we’ve ever seen from tornadoes in the United States of America. Knowing that we’ve got friends here in the United Kingdom who care deeply and who offer their thoughts and prayers makes all the difference in the world. So thank you very much for that.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you. And the Guinness wasn’t bad in Ireland, either.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It was very good.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.

END 1:48 P.M. BST

Full Text May 25, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Address to the British Parliament

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

Remarks by the President to Parliament in London, United Kingdom

President Obama Speaks to UK Parliament

President Barack Obama gives a speech to members of both Houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall in London, England, May 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Westminster Hall, London, United Kingdom

3:47 P.M. BST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

My Lord Chancellor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, my lords, and members of the House of Commons:

I have known few greater honors than the opportunity to address the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster Hall. I am told that the last three speakers here have been the Pope, Her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela — which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke. (Laughter.)

I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest, one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known. It’s long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship. And since we also share an especially active press corps, that relationship is often analyzed and overanalyzed for the slightest hint of stress or strain.

Of course, all relationships have their ups and downs. Admittedly, ours got off on the wrong foot with a small scrape about tea and taxes. (Laughter.) There may also have been some hurt feelings when the White House was set on fire during the War of 1812. (Laughter.) But fortunately, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

The reason for this close friendship doesn’t just have to do with our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture; or even the strong partnership between our governments. Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.

Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders.

Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that’s gathered here today.

What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”

For both of our nations, living up to the ideals enshrined in these founding documents has sometimes been difficult, has always been a work in progress. The path has never been perfect. But through the struggles of slaves and immigrants, women and ethnic minorities, former colonies and persecuted religions, we have learned better than most that the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western –- it is universal, and it beats in every heart. Perhaps that’s why there are few nations that stand firmer, speak louder, and fight harder to defend democratic values around the world than the United States and the United Kingdom.

We are the allies who landed at Omaha and Gold, who sacrificed side by side to free a continent from the march of tyranny, and help prosperity flourish from the ruins of war. And with the founding of NATO –- a British idea –- we joined a transatlantic alliance that has ensured our security for over half a century.

Together with our allies, we forged a lasting peace from a cold war. When the Iron Curtain lifted, we expanded our alliance to include the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and built new bridges to Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union. And when there was strife in the Balkans, we worked together to keep the peace.

Today, after a difficult decade that began with war and ended in recession, our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more. A global economy that once stood on the brink of depression is now stable and recovering. After years of conflict, the United States has removed 100,000 troops from Iraq, the United Kingdom has removed its forces, and our combat mission there has ended. In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum and will soon begin a transition to Afghan lead. And nearly 10 years after 9/11, we have disrupted terrorist networks and dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader –- Osama bin Laden.

Together, we have met great challenges. But as we enter this new chapter in our shared history, profound challenges stretch before us. In a world where the prosperity of all nations is now inextricably linked, a new era of cooperation is required to ensure the growth and stability of the global economy. As new threats spread across borders and oceans, we must dismantle terrorist networks and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, confront climate change and combat famine and disease. And as a revolution races through the streets of the Middle East and North Africa, the entire world has a stake in the aspirations of a generation that longs to determine its own destiny.

These challenges come at a time when the international order has already been reshaped for a new century. Countries like China, India, and Brazil are growing by leaps and bounds. We should welcome this development, for it has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty around the globe, and created new markets and opportunities for our own nations.

And yet, as this rapid change has taken place, it’s become fashionable in some quarters to question whether the rise of these nations will accompany the decline of American and European influence around the world. Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed.

That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now. It was the United States and the United Kingdom and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive. And even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just.

At a time when threats and challenges require nations to work in concert with one another, we remain the greatest catalysts for global action. In an era defined by the rapid flow of commerce and information, it is our free market tradition, our openness, fortified by our commitment to basic security for our citizens, that offers the best chance of prosperity that is both strong and shared. As millions are still denied their basic human rights because of who they are, or what they believe, or the kind of government that they live under, we are the nations most willing to stand up for the values of tolerance and self-determination that lead to peace and dignity.

Now, this doesn’t mean we can afford to stand still. The nature of our leadership will need to change with the times. As I said the first time I came to London as President, for the G20 summit, the days are gone when Roosevelt and Churchill could sit in a room and solve the world’s problems over a glass of brandy -– although I’m sure that Prime Minister Cameron would agree that some days we could both use a stiff drink. (Laughter.) In this century, our joint leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances, and remaking ourselves to meet the demands of a new era.

That begins with our economic leadership.

Adam Smith’s central insight remains true today: There is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women. That’s what led to the Industrial Revolution that began in the factories of Manchester. That is what led to the dawn of the Information Age that arose from the office parks of Silicon Valley. That’s why countries like China, India and Brazil are growing so rapidly — because in fits and starts, they are moving toward market-based principles that the United States and the United Kingdom have always embraced.

In other words, we live in a global economy that is largely of our own making. And today, the competition for the best jobs and industries favors countries that are free-thinking and forward-looking; countries with the most creative and innovative and entrepreneurial citizens.

That gives nations like the United States and the United Kingdom an inherent advantage. For from Newton and Darwin to Edison and Einstein, from Alan Turing to Steve Jobs, we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research, the discovery of new medicines and technologies. We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that’s more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.

We’ve also been reminded in the last few years that markets can sometimes fail. In the last century, both our nations put in place regulatory frameworks to deal with such market failures — safeguards to protect the banking system after the Great Depression, for example; regulations that were established to prevent the pollution of our air and water during the 1970s.

But in today’s economy, such threats of market failure can no longer be contained within the borders of any one country. Market failures can go global, and go viral, and demand international responses.

A financial crisis that began on Wall Street infected nearly every continent, which is why we must keep working through forums like the G20 to put in place global rules of the road to prevent future excesses and abuse. No country can hide from the dangers of carbon pollution, which is why we must build on what was achieved at Copenhagen and Cancun to leave our children a planet that is safer and cleaner.

Moreover, even when the free market works as it should, both our countries recognize that no matter how responsibly we live in our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. And so part of our common tradition has expressed itself in a conviction that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security -– health care if you get sick, unemployment insurance if you lose your job, a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. That commitment to our citizens has also been the reason for our leadership in the world.

And now, having come through a terrible recession, our challenge is to meet these obligations while ensuring that we’re not consuming — and hence consumed with — a level of debt that could sap the strength and vitality of our economies. And that will require difficult choices and it will require different paths for both of our countries. But we have faced such challenges before, and have always been able to balance the need for fiscal responsibility with the responsibilities we have to one another.

And I believe we can do this again. As we do, the successes and failures of our own past can serve as an example for emerging economies -– that it’s possible to grow without polluting; that lasting prosperity comes not from what a nation consumes, but from what it produces, and from the investments it makes in its people and its infrastructure.

And just as we must lead on behalf of the prosperity of our citizens, so we must safeguard their security. Our two nations know what it is to confront evil in the world. Hitler’s armies would not have stopped their killing had we not fought them on the beaches and on the landing grounds, in the fields and on the streets. We must never forget that there was nothing inevitable about our victory in that terrible war. It was won through the courage and character of our people.

Precisely because we are willing to bear its burden, we know well the cost of war. And that is why we built an alliance that was strong enough to defend this continent while deterring our enemies. At its core, NATO is rooted in the simple concept of Article Five: that no NATO nation will have to fend on its own; that allies will stand by one another, always. And for six decades, NATO has been the most successful alliance in human history.

Today, we confront a different enemy. Terrorists have taken the lives of our citizens in New York and in London. And while al Qaeda seeks a religious war with the West, we must remember that they have killed thousands of Muslims -– men, women and children -– around the globe. Our nations are not and will never be at war with Islam. Our fight is focused on defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies. In that effort, we will not relent, as Osama bin Laden and his followers have learned. And as we fight an enemy that respects no law of war, we will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard -– by living up to the values, the rule of law and due process that we so ardently defend.

For almost a decade, Afghanistan has been a central front of these efforts. Throughout those years, you, the British people, have been a stalwart ally, along with so many others who fight by our side.

Together, let us pay tribute to all of our men and women who have served and sacrificed over the last several years -– for they are part of an unbroken line of heroes who have borne the heaviest burden for the freedoms that we enjoy. Because of them, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum. Because of them, we have built the capacity of Afghan security forces. And because of them, we are now preparing to turn a corner in Afghanistan by transitioning to Afghan lead. And during this transition, we will pursue a lasting peace with those who break free of al Qaeda and respect the Afghan constitution and lay down arms. And we will ensure that Afghanistan is never a safe haven for terror, but is instead a country that is strong, sovereign, and able to stand on its own two feet.

Indeed, our efforts in this young century have led us to a new concept for NATO that will give us the capabilities needed to meet new threats — threats like terrorism and piracy, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles. But a revitalized NATO will continue to hew to that original vision of its founders, allowing us to rally collective action for the defense of our people, while building upon the broader belief of Roosevelt and Churchill that all nations have both rights and responsibilities, and all nations share a common interest in an international architecture that maintains the peace.

We also share a common interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Across the globe, nations are locking down nuclear materials so they never fall into the wrong hands — because of our leadership. From North Korea to Iran, we’ve sent a message that those who flaunt their obligations will face consequences -– which is why America and the European Union just recently strengthened our sanctions on Iran, in large part because of the leadership of the United Kingdom and the United States. And while we hold others to account, we will meet our own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

We share a common interest in resolving conflicts that prolong human suffering and threaten to tear whole regions asunder. In Sudan, after years of war and thousands of deaths, we call on both North and South to pull back from the brink of violence and choose the path of peace. And in the Middle East, we stand united in our support for a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine.

And we share a common interest in development that advances dignity and security. To succeed, we must cast aside the impulse to look at impoverished parts of the globe as a place for charity. Instead, we should empower the same forces that have allowed our own people to thrive: We should help the hungry to feed themselves, the doctors who care for the sick. We should support countries that confront corruption, and allow their people to innovate. And we should advance the truth that nations prosper when they allow women and girls to reach their full potential.

We do these things because we believe not simply in the rights of nations; we believe in the rights of citizens. That is the beacon that guided us through our fight against fascism and our twilight struggle against communism. And today, that idea is being put to the test in the Middle East and North Africa. In country after country, people are mobilizing to free themselves from the grip of an iron fist. And while these movements for change are just six months old, we have seen them play out before -– from Eastern Europe to the Americas, from South Africa to Southeast Asia.

History tells us that democracy is not easy. It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion, and there will be difficult days along the way. Power rarely gives up without a fight -– particularly in places where there are divisions of tribe and divisions of sect. We also know that populism can take dangerous turns -– from the extremism of those who would use democracy to deny minority rights, to the nationalism that left so many scars on this continent in the 20th century.

But make no mistake: What we saw, what we are seeing in Tehran, in Tunis, in Tahrir Square, is a longing for the same freedoms that we take for granted here at home. It was a rejection of the notion that people in certain parts of the world don’t want to be free, or need to have democracy imposed upon them. It was a rebuke to the worldview of al Qaeda, which smothers the rights of individuals, and would thereby subject them to perpetual poverty and violence.

Let there be no doubt: The United States and United Kingdom stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free. And now, we must show that we will back up those words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy, starting with Tunisia and Egypt -– by deepening ties of trade and commerce; by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity. And that means standing up for universal rights -– by sanctioning those who pursue repression, strengthening civil society, supporting the rights of minorities.
We do this knowing that the West must overcome suspicion and mistrust among many in the Middle East and North Africa -– a mistrust that is rooted in a difficult past. For years, we’ve faced charges of hypocrisy from those who do not enjoy the freedoms that they hear us espouse. And so to them, we must squarely acknowledge that, yes, we have enduring interests in the region -– to fight terror, sometimes with partners who may not be perfect; to protect against disruptions of the world’s energy supply. But we must also insist that we reject as false the choice between our interests and our ideals; between stability and democracy. For our idealism is rooted in the realities of history -– that repression offers only the false promise of stability, that societies are more successful when their citizens are free, and that democracies are the closest allies we have.

It is that truth that guides our action in Libya. It would have been easy at the outset of the crackdown in Libya to say that none of this was our business -– that a nation’s sovereignty is more important than the slaughter of civilians within its borders. That argument carries weight with some. But we are different. We embrace a broader responsibility. And while we cannot stop every injustice, there are circumstances that cut through our caution -– when a leader is threatening to massacre his people, and the international community is calling for action. That’s why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.

We will proceed with humility, and the knowledge that we cannot dictate every outcome abroad. Ultimately, freedom must be won by the people themselves, not imposed from without. But we can and must stand with those who so struggle. Because we have always believed that the future of our children and grandchildren will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren are more prosperous and more free -– from the beaches of Normandy to the Balkans to Benghazi. That is our interests and our ideals. And if we fail to meet that responsibility, who would take our place, and what kind of world would we pass on?

Our action -– our leadership -– is essential to the cause of human dignity. And so we must act -– and lead -– with confidence in our ideals, and an abiding faith in the character of our people, who sent us all here today.

For there is one final quality that I believe makes the United States and the United Kingdom indispensable to this moment in history. And that is how we define ourselves as nations.

Unlike most countries in the world, we do not define citizenship based on race or ethnicity. Being American or British is not about belonging to a certain group; it’s about believing in a certain set of ideals — the rights of individuals, the rule of law. That is why we hold incredible diversity within our borders. That’s why there are people around the world right now who believe that if they come to America, if they come to New York, if they come to London, if they work hard, they can pledge allegiance to our flag and call themselves Americans; if they come to England, they can make a new life for themselves and can sing God Save The Queen just like any other citizen.

Yes, our diversity can lead to tension. And throughout our history there have been heated debates about immigration and assimilation in both of our countries. But even as these debates can be difficult, we fundamentally recognize that our patchwork heritage is an enormous strength — that in a world which will only grow smaller and more interconnected, the example of our two nations says it is possible for people to be united by their ideals, instead of divided by their differences; that it’s possible for hearts to change and old hatreds to pass; that it’s possible for the sons and daughters of former colonies to sit here as members of this great Parliament, and for the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as President of the United States. (Applause.)

That is what defines us. That is why the young men and women in the streets of Damascus and Cairo still reach for the rights our citizens enjoy, even if they sometimes differ with our policies. As two of the most powerful nations in the history of the world, we must always remember that the true source of our influence hasn’t just been the size of our economies, or the reach of our militaries, or the land that we’ve claimed. It has been the values that we must never waver in defending around the world — the idea that all beings are endowed by our Creator with certain rights that cannot be denied.

That is what forged our bond in the fire of war — a bond made manifest by the friendship between two of our greatest leaders. Churchill and Roosevelt had their differences. They were keen observers of each other’s blind spots and shortcomings, if not always their own, and they were hard-headed about their ability to remake the world. But what joined the fates of these two men at that particular moment in history was not simply a shared interest in victory on the battlefield. It was a shared belief in the ultimate triumph of human freedom and human dignity -– a conviction that we have a say in how this story ends.

This conviction lives on in their people today. The challenges we face are great. The work before us is hard. But we have come through a difficult decade, and whenever the tests and trials ahead may seem too big or too many, let us turn to their example, and the words that Churchill spoke on the day that Europe was freed:

“In the long years to come, not only will the people of this island but…the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in [the] human heart, look back to what we’ve done, and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield…march straightforward’.”

With courage and purpose, with humility and with hope, with faith in the promise of tomorrow, let us march straightforward together, enduring allies in the cause of a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 4:21 P.M. BST

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