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Obama meets with other world leaders in France

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Obama: Western leadership 'essential'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. president arrives in Deauville to participate in G8 talks
  • Obama discusses economic and security issues with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
  • A day earlier, Obama defended U.S. leadership and values in speech to British Parliament
  • He tells Japanese prime minister Americans are "heartbroken" by tsunami

Deauville, France (CNN) -- President Barack Obama landed in France on Thursday for meetings with the leaders of the world's top economic powers after a high-profile visit to London.

Obama discussed a range of security and economic issues during a one-on-one meeting with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. He also met with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and participated in a full day of talks with other leaders of the Group of Eight nations.

The G8 includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and Russia.

Obama told Kan that Americans were "heartbroken" by the devastation created by Japan's recent tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.

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"The United States will stand by Japan for as long as it takes for Japan to recover," Obama said. "And I'm confident it will recover."

Kan thanked Obama for American disaster recovery assistance.

The two men agreed Kan will make an "official visit" to Washington in September, according to Daniel Russel, a senior U.S. National Security Council staff member.

Obama is in the middle of a six-day, four-nation trip to Europe that began in Ireland and will end in Poland.

Obama's meetings in France came on the heels of a visit to London, where he became the first U.S. president to address a joint session of the British Parliament at famed Westminster Hall.

During his speech, Obama argued that Western leadership of the world remains "essential to the cause of human dignity."

"The longing for freedom and human dignity" is "universal, and it beats in every heart," Obama said.

Obama linked this year's uprisings against regimes across the Middle East to the fall of communism in Europe, of white minority rule in South Africa and of dictatorships in Latin America and Southeast Asia, saying they reflect "a longing for the same freedoms that we take for granted at home."

He also contended that the rise of China, India and Brazil was linked to their acceptance of free markets on the British and American models.

Their ascendance does not mean that Western leadership is in decline, he insisted, saying: "The time for our leadership is now."

Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron turned up the heat on Moammar Gadhafi in a joint appearance Wednesday, with the president saying that "ultimately," the Libyan leader will go.

The United Nations-endorsed mission to protect Libya's people from their leader means making sure Gadhafi "doesn't have capacity to send in a bunch of thugs to murder innocent civilians and threaten them," Obama said.

Queen Elizabeth II hosted a state dinner for Obama on Tuesday night. The president and first lady also toured Buckingham Palace and visited Westminster Abbey, where crowds that had gathered along the roads outside cheered their arrival.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

 
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