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President Barack Obama Delivers Final State of the Union Address
   2016-01-13 19:02:45    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. [Photo: Evan Vucci /dfic.cn]

US President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. Pitching a hopeful tone for 2016, the President touched on a range of topics that have come to define his presidency.

CRI's Victor Ning reports.


 

Speaking before Congress, President Obama affirmed the values that he said defined American society. He said traits including optimism, a strong work ethic, commitment to diversity and the rule of law have helped the US to make progress during his two terms.

Touting an economic rebound, Obama said anyone who claims the US is in a state of decline is "peddling fiction."

"Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We're in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the 1990s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever."

Lamenting the divded and dysfuctional American political system, Obama admitted to having regrets during his time in office.

"It's one of the few regrets of my presidency C that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber -- good people -- who would like to see more cooperation, would like to see a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the imperatives of getting elected.

The President called on the American people to change the political system by doing things like combatting the role of money in its politics.

Speaking about international security, Obama said the US can't "take over and rebuild" every nation in crisis. Instead, he said a more effective strategy is to build international coalitions.

"That's our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we're partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace. That's why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war."

Commenting on US-Cuba relations, Obama said isolating the island nation had failed as a foreign policy. He urged Congress to lift existing US embargo on Cuba, to further normalize relations after the two nations restored ties last year.

Obama said extremist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group must be "rooted out." While recognizing their threat to national security, he cautioned against overstating the threat of these groups.

In a veiled criticism of current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's recent comments about Muslims in America, Obama said it was "wrong" for politicians to insult Muslims, adding the behavior "betrays" the American value of diversity.

An empty chair was set next to First Lady Michelle Obama to pay tribute to victims of gun-related tragedies.

Also in the audience was a Syrian refugee now living in Detroit. The President extended the invitation himself, during a time of opposition to receiving Syrian refugees in the US.

For CRI, I'm Victor Ning.

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