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Obama speech: 'We must come together to save planet'

An edited transcript of the speech that Barack Obama gave in Berlin yesterday...

Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world. I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city.

The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British...

Ours is a partnership that truly began 60 years ago this summer when the first American plane touched down at Templehof... The Soviet shadow had swept across eastern Europe... but in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up.

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learnt to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle. Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings insist that we never forget our common humanity... where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again... the 21st century has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history... But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean. The terrorists of 11 September plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya ... The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all ... That is why we cannot afford to be divided.

No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone ... And we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny. In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future.

Both views miss the truth ... But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity ... Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast; in the Balkans ... in South Africa. That is why America cannot turn inward ... why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it.

This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it, to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan.

No one welcomes war. I recognise the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that Nato's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al-Qa'ida. This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions ... This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet.

Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time. I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. ... People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.

Belfast Telegraph


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