President Obama's speech to UK parliament

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2011 4:21 PM
President Obama's speech to UK parliament

LONDON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama addressed members of Britain's parliament during a state visit on Wednesday.

Following are key passages:

0N AFGHANISTAN

"We are now preparing to turn a corner in Afghanistan by transitioning to Afghan lead. During this transition, we will pursue a lasting peace with those who break free from 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."

ON MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

"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."

ON LIBYA

"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 is 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."