As the G8 Ends, a Presidential Speech

Friday, July 10, 2009

This morning, President Obama addressed the nation and the world from L'Aquila, Italy, the site of the G8 summit. His wide-ranging speech covered topics from climate change to the economy, from Iran to American health care. Joining The Takeaway to parse the president's speech are April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich.

Click through to read a transcript of President Obama's speech.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me begin by thanking the Italian people and President Napolitano for their extraordinary hospitality. I will be leaving right after this press discussion to L'Aquila, where we'll be joining other world leaders at the G-8 summit. I'll also have an opportunity to take a tour of the damage that was done in L'Aquila.

Obviously our hearts were broken by the death and destruction that took place after the earthquake. And I'm very pleased that the United States, like many other countries, will be contributing to help the rebuilding process. In fact, we have, along with the National Italian American Foundation, already identified projects to help rebuild facilities at the University of L'Aquila and to provide scholarships and summer programs. And so that's a nice, concrete affirmation of the extraordinary friendship between the Italian people and the United States. As I was mentioning to the President, that bond is not just between the military but is between our peoples. A lot of American citizens trace their roots back to this country and the traditions of Italy have greatly enriched America.

And so it is a wonderful pleasure to be here. It is particularly a pleasure to be here because the Italian government I think has been such a great friend to the United States on a whole range of issues, and President Napolitano mentioned some of those. We are working hand in hand in places like Afghanistan to ensure that we are isolating extremists and strengthening the forces of moderation around the world.

On the international front, we discussed the importance of Europe and the United States raising standards on financial institutions to ensure that a crisis like the one that's taken place will never happen again. President Napolitano was keenly interested in the work that we were doing in Russia around nuclear nonproliferation.

And he agreed that even as the United States and Russia find ways to fulfill our responsibilities to reduce our stockpiles, that it's very important for the world community to speak to countries like Iran and North Korea and encourage them to take a path that does not result in a nuclear arms race in places like the Middle East, and that there are other means by which countries can ensure their sovereignty and gain respect around the world.

So the topics that will be discussed at G-8 -- whether it's climate change, issues of world poverty, the global financial crisis, issues of nuclear nonproliferation -- these are all issues in which the Italian government has already shown extraordinary leadership, and we are grateful that we will, for many years to come, be able to call Italy a friend.

And just a personal note: I had heard of the wonderful reputation of President Napolitano as somebody who has the admiration of the Italian people because of not only his longstanding service but also his integrity and his graciousness. And I just want to confirm that everything about him that I had heard is true. He's an extraordinary gentleman, a great leader of this country, and the fact that he has been such a gracious host is something that we all greatly appreciate.

So thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership. Thanks to the people of Italy for your great friendship to the United States.

Guests:

April Ryan and Todd Zwillich

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