U.S. Democratic Party presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivered a much awaited speech in Berlin Thursday, urging Europe to stand by the United States in bringing stability to Afghanistan and tackling other threats to global peace. Obama spoke at the Victory Column before tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.
They started gathering hours before Barack Obama was scheduled to speak. By the time he showed up at Berlin's Victory Column, Tiergaten Park was packed.
"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so much," Obama said.
The White House hopeful said, despite the historic ties Europe and the U.S. had drifted apart and forgotten what he described as a shared destiny. He called on the Europeans to play a bigger role in the fight against terrorism and take a greater share of responsibility for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
"I recognize 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," Senator Obama said. "America can't do this alone; the Afghan people need our troops and your troops our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida, to develop the economy and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now."
Obama mentioned Iraq only briefly, saying as much as the world was divided over the war it should unite in helping to rebuild the country.
"Despite past differences this is the moment when the world must support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close," he said.
He spoke at length about America's historic ties to Europe, invoking the Berlin airlift launched by the allies after the former Soviet Union isolated the western part of the city.
"Ours is a partnership that truly began 60 years ago this summer on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehoff [Airport]," said Obama. "On that day much of this continent still lay in ruins, the rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall, the Soviet shadow had swept across eastern Europe while in the West America, Britain and France took stock of their losses."
Obama also called on the United States and Europe to send a message to Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.