News / USA

On YouTube, Obama Comments on Economy, Middle East

President Obama as seen on a YouTube presentation, Jan. 27, 2011
President Obama as seen on a YouTube presentation, Jan. 27, 2011

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President Barack Obama used an appearance Thursday on the social media web site, YouTube, to talk about challenges facing the United States both domestically and abroad. He commented about the wave of protests in Middle Eastern countries.

Protests that began in Tunisia, forcing the country's president to flee, have spread to Egypt, including the capital Cairo and smaller cities.  Egyptian security police have been battling anti-government demonstrators.

Protests also erupted in Yemen, where thousands demonstrated in the capital, Sana'a, calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdallah Saleh.



On Thursday, Mr. Obama used a social networking site to comment on the protests in the Middle East.

The president praised Egypt as a close ally and important player in Mideast peace efforts.  But he said he has personally stressed to President Hosni Mubarak the importance of making progress on political and economic reform.

"It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances.  As I said in my State of the Union speech, there are certain core values that we believe in as Americans that we believe are universal:  freedom of speech, freedom of expression, people being able to use social networking or any other mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their concerns," he said.

Mr. Obama answered two questions on Afghanistan and Iraq, including one from a woman who asked why the president feels it's important for Americans to be dying in both places.

He said the war in Iraq is coming to an honorable conclusion because of the service of U.S. troops.

On Afghanistan, he repeated the goal of defeating and dismantling al-Qaida and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and transitioning to Afghan government control by 2014.

"The situation is not going to be perfect there but what we have been able to do is to continually shrink the ability of al-Qaida to launch operations and we expect to dismantle their operational capacity over the next several years," the president said.

President Obama also used YouTube to underscore themes in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday - about making the U.S. more competitive through greater investment in technology and education.

He also urged Republicans to work with him to address the nation's 14 trillion dollar debt and the government deficit.

Mr. Obama - just back from a visit to factories in Wisconsin - will visit Pennsylvania early next month to reinforce his message about the economy.

See the entire YouTube interview:

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