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British Prime Minister Addresses US Congress


In an address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the United States to seize the opportunity to expand cooperation with Europe to solve the world economic crisis and tackle other issues.

In the fifth address to Congress by a British prime minister, Mr. Brown recognized what he called the latest chapter in America's story, the election of President Barack Obama which he said gave the world renewed hope.

Referring to two previous American presidents, he said one, John F. Kennedy, dared Americans to explore the new frontier of space, while Ronald Reagan insisted on freedom for the people of Eastern Europe and quickened the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Now under President Obama, Prime Minister Brown said, the United States has an opportunity to forge a new relationship with a more unified Europe prepared to be a partner in facing global challenges.

"Let me say to you directly," Mr. Brown said. "You now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. It's a leadership that wants to cooperate more closely together, in order to cooperate more closely with you. There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe."

Referring to an "economic hurricane" that has swept the world, Prime Minister Brown said the United States and Britain must with equal determination, adding that the world faces a need not just to manage the crisis but carry out transformative change to rebuild prosperity.

"We need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe," Mr. Brown said. "And today's financial institutions, they are so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere."

In tackling the crisis, Mr. Brown said governments should not succumb to protectionism but have the confidence to seize opportunities ahead.

The prime minister received loud applause as he paid tribute to American and British soldiers who sacrificed their lives for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pledged Britain's continued support against terrorists.

"Let me therefore promise you our continued support to ensure that there is no hiding place for terrorists, no safe haven for terrorism," Mr. Brown said. "You should be proud that in the years after 2001, that while terrorists may destroy buildings and even, tragically, lives, they have not, and will not ever, destroy the American spirit."

On specific foreign policy issues, Mr. Brown pledged British support for Middle East peace efforts and a two state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
He said Britain will work tirelessly with the United States to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, and he urged Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

"And our shared message to Iran, it is simple," Mr. Brown said. "We are ready for you to rejoin the international community. But first, you must cease your threats and suspend your nuclear program."

Returning to the global economic crisis, Prime Minister Brown said governments must act with resolve to restructure banks and financial systems, develop environmentally-sound technologies and expand education. He urged U.S. support for a new agreement on global climate change.

Efforts to end recession, he added, must not forget the needs of the world's poor, including education, saying the United States and Britain must work to improve the global economic condition.

"All of us know that in a recession the wealthiest, the most powerful and the most privileged can find a way through," Mr. Brown said. "So we do not value the wealthy less when we say that our first duty is to help the not so wealthy. We do not value the powerful less when we say our first responsibility is to help the powerless. And we do not value those who are secure less, when we say that our first priority must be to help the insecure.

The British leader ended his address with a reference to Franklin Roosevelt, who he recalled challenged Americans to battle fear in the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930's.

"It was not simply by the power of his words, his personality and his example that he triumphed," Mr. Brown said. "Yes, all these things mattered. But what mattered more was this enduring truth: that you, the American people, at your core, were, as you remain, every bit as optimistic as your Roosevelts, your Reagans and your Obamas."

While he paid tribute to former U.S. presidents, Prime Minister Brown also singled out for attention Senator Edward Kennedy, the brother of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Brown announced that Senator Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer but still pushing for progress in Congress on the difficult issue of health care reform, will be given an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.


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