Obama: U.S. And U.K. Must Lead : The Two-Way The speech, aides say, was the centerpiece of his six-day, four-nation European trip. He stressed the importance of the U.S.-U.K. relationship, saying that the "enduring allies" play critical roles in shaping world events to come.
NPR logo Obama: At This 'Pivotal Moment,' U.S. And U.K. Must Lead

Obama: At This 'Pivotal Moment,' U.S. And U.K. Must Lead

President Obama, accompanied by Commons Speaker John Bercow and Lords Speaker Baroness Helen Hayman, as he entered Westminster Hall. Nicholas Kamm /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Nicholas Kamm /AFP/Getty Images

President Obama, accompanied by Commons Speaker John Bercow and Lords Speaker Baroness Helen Hayman, as he entered Westminster Hall.

Nicholas Kamm /AFP/Getty Images

President Obama today addressed the British Parliament, giving a speech that focused on the long, strong relations between the U.S. and U.K. and what he sees as the two nations' critical role in shaping world events to come. We live-blogged as it happens. Be sure to hit your "refresh" button to see our latest updates.

Obama is about half-way through a six-day, four-nation trip that began with a stop in Ireland. He heads to France on Thursday for the annual G8 summit. The trip ends in Poland on Saturday.

Update at 11:21 a.m. ET. In Conclusion, A Quote From Churchill:

As he finished, the president quoted from Prime Minister Winston Churchill's address in 1945 when the war in Europe was over.


"I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we've done and they will say 'do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.' "

"Let us march straight forward," Obama says, as "enduring allies."

That produces a standing ovation from the parliamentarians and others in the hall.

Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. U.S. And U.K. Have Standing To Push "Cause Of Human Dignity":

Saying that "our leadership is essential to the cause of human dignity," the president lays out why he believes the U.S. and U.K. are "indispensable" to that effort.

It stems from "how we define ourselves as nations," he says — and the fact that citizenship is not defined by race or ethnicity but by "believing in a certain set of ideals."

And he gets applause for pointing out that he, the grandson of an African cook in the British army, was able to rise to be president of the U.S.

Update at 11:13 a.m. ET. Some Partners Aren't Perfect:

Alluding to what some see as a failure to speak out effectively against repression in Bahrain and other places, the president says that the U.S. and its allies have an interest in fighting terror, "sometimes with partners who may not be perfect" and to "prevent disruptions to the world's energy supply."

He adds, though, that there should be no trade-off between "our interests and ideals ... between stability and democracy."

Update at 11:12 a.m. ET. The Arab Spring And Iran:

Speaking of the Arab Spring, the president says that "in country after country people are mobilizing to free themselves from the grip of an iron fist."

And he extends the discussion to Iran when he says that "what we are seeing in Tehran" and elsewhere is a yearning for freedom and demand for respect of human rights.

Update at 11:08 a.m. ET. United On Middle East Policy:

The president says the U.S. and U.K. are united in "support for a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine."

Update at 11:05 a.m. ET. As Bin Laden Learned, "Our Fight Is Not With Islam":

Turning to terrorism, the president says that "our fight is not with Islam," but with terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida. And "Osama bin Laden" and others in that network have learned that, the president adds.

Update at 10:59 a.m. ET. U.S. And U.K. Have "An Inherent Advantage:"

"We live in a global economy that is largely of our own making," the president says, and it "favors countries that are free-thinking and forward-looking" — giving the U.S. and U.K. "an inherent advantage."

But, he adds, to retain that advantage will require continued investments in education, technology and other key sectors of the economy.

Update at 10:56 a.m. ET. "Our Alliance Will Remain Essential:"

Though some say other nations are assuming leadership positions in the world, Obama says of the U.S. and U.K. that "even as more nations take on the responsiblities of global leadership ... our alliance will remain essential. ... We remain the greatest catalysts for global action."

Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. "A Pivotal Moment":

"After a difficult decade," says Obama, "our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more" as rapid changes occur around the world.

Update at 10:52 a.m. ET: "We Have Learned":

"Through the struggles of slaves and immigrants, women and ethnic minorities, former colonies and persecuted religions," Obama says, the U.S. and U.K. "have learned [that] the longing for freedom and human dignity is universal."

Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. The Special Relationship:

The U.S.-U.K. relationship is special, Obama says, "because of the values and beliefs that have united our peoples" for centuries.

Update at 10:48 a.m. ET. A Joke:

The president notes that the previous three speakers in this setting were "the pope, her majesty the queen and Nelson Mandela. ... That's either a very high bar, or the beginning of a very funny joke."

Update at 10:46 a.m. ET. The president is about to begin speaking.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, is introducing the president. He notes that no other U.S. president has stood where Obama will to address the houses of parliament.

Update at 10:43 a.m. ET: To a fanfare from horns, the president just came into the hall.

Update at 10:34 a.m. ET: The president will be speaking in the parliament's historic Westminster Hall, which CBS News' Mark Knoller says "boasts the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe."

Update at 10:33 a.m. ET: It looks like most of the dignitaries have taken their seats, so the president likely will be starting in a few moments.