Obama speaking at the UN general assembly opening session (phiên khai mạc) amid plan to avoid showdown over Palestine – live coverage
Barack Obama addresses the United Nations general assembly today. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
3.16pm: The Guardian’s Chris McGreal has the response of the Palestinian delegation to Obama’s address, and an insight into how the Palestinians plan to approach the bid for statehood recognition:
Nabil Shaath, the former Palestinian chief negotiator and part of the delegation at the UN, criticised Obama’s speech for failing to address what he said is the primary obstacle to peace negotiations: the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
"The serious gap in the speech had to do with the absolute minimum for the peace process … settlement policies, de-Arabisation of Jerusalem, the siege of Gaza," he said.
Shaath said that despite US opposition, the Palestinians will submit their request for full UN membership to the security council on Friday and press for an early vote. If that fails to happen, or the US exercises its veto, then the Palestinians will take the request to the UN general assembly which has the power only to grant observer status.
He said that the Palestinians will not go immediately to the general assembly because they do not want anyone to think they are not serious about the request to the security council but that they will not wait indefinitely for a vote either.
Shaath said the Palestinians have an assurance from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that a vote in the security council will not be delayed for political reasons, only by procedure. But he did not sound confident that would be the case.
Shaath said that nine members of the security council already recognise Palestine as a state – precisely the number they need to win the vote and a moral victory even if the US applies its veto. He said he would expect all nine to back the Palestinian request but recognised that some of them are under considerable pressure from the Americans to abstain.
Shaath said the nine are Russia, China, Lebanon, India, Brazil, South Africa, Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria.
Asked if the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, would respond to a request by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to open talks at the UN, Shaath called Netanyahu’s offer "highly theatrical".
Shaath also said that the settlement issue remained a principal obstacle to agreeing to a proposal by the Quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia to restart negotiations and avoid a showdown in the security council. The Palestinians are demanding that the Quartet require Israel to halt all settlement construction during talks.
3.02pm: Speaking to at the Clinton Global Initiave forum, Obama says:
I do envy President Clinton, because when you’re out of Washington it turns out you’re dealing with people who are reasonable all the time.
Insert your own joke about how quickly Obama will be able to be out of Washington all the time if the economy stays as it is.
2.50pm: With perfect timing – given the Fed’s economic gloom – here’s the latest apocalyptic campaign ad from Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.
2.36pm: The one bright spot for the Obama administration is the Fed’s decision announced just now to buy $400bn of Treasuries with 6 to 30 years maturity while selling an equal amount with of 3 years or less until maturity. "This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accommodative," the committee said.
The Fed has also decided to reinvest in mortgage-backed bonds:
To help support conditions in mortgage markets, the Committee will now reinvest principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.
The net effect will be to lower long-term interest rates and stimultae the economy. Well, that’s the idea.
The Fed’s move is a welcome response to the disgraceful attempt by Republican leaders in Congress to jawbone it into doing nothing:
In a letter this week to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and the top Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona, urged that the Fed stay away from any stimulus.
"Respectfully, we submit that the board should resist further extraordinary intervention in the US economy, particularly without a clear articulation of the goals of such a policy, direction for success, ample data proving a case for economic action and quantifiable benefits to the American people," the quartet wrote.
2.26pm: The US Federal Reserve’s interest rate setting committee has today announced that it is keeping interest rates on hold.
The Committee continues to expect some pickup in the pace of recovery over coming quarters but anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually…. Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets.
And there appear to be little change in the Fed’s future outlook, as the committee "anticipates that economic conditions – including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run – are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013."
So: high unemployment, low inflation, weak recovery until the middle of next year. Any bets on Obama’s re-election then?
2.24pm: Obama’s next appearance this afternoon is at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, where he is to give remarks before a panel on sustainable consumption that features Gro Harlem Brundtland and Bob Diamond of Barclays.
Class joker Barack Obama raises his hand in front of another leader at a UN meeting in New York on 20 September. Photograph: Getty Images
1.49pm: After all that talking, the world leaders have lunch. Not at the UN staff cafetaria but at a special world leaders’ luncheon, complete with welcoming toast by Ban Ki-moon.
The UN secretary-general thanked New Yorkers for putting up with "lots of traffic jams" and joked:
In the last month you have faced an earthquake, then a hurricane, now a perfect storm of world leaders.
The Arab Spring quandary, in particular, has been enormously troublesome for Mr Obama. White House officials say that he has long been keenly aware that he, like no other American president, stood as a potential beacon to the Arab street as the ultimate symbol of the hopes and rewards of democracy. But since he is the president of the United States, he has had to put American interests first.
So Mr Obama’s entire 47-minute address appeared, at times, an effort to thread the needle meant to balance his efforts in support of democratic movements against his efforts to stand behind Israel, America’s foremost ally. From the moment he stepped behind the podium and began talking, everything he said seemed directed to one point. "Mr President, Mr Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations – the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world."
12.55pm: Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, says the Israeli leadership were afraid President Obama would bring up the issue of maintaining the 1967 borders:
Obama is clearly more angry with the Palestinians than with Israel at the moment because they are humiliating him by going to the Security Council while Israel has been cooperative.
12.30pm: In his address, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy told the UN general assembly: "Let us stop the endless debate over the outlines and, on this basis, start negotiations on a precise timetable: one month to restart discussions, six months to agree on borders and security, and one year to reach a final settlement."
According to Sarkozy’s transcript:
Tous les éléments d’une solution sont connus et font l’objet de nombreux documents, de la Conférence de Madrid de 1991 au discours du Président Obama du 19 Mai dernier, en passant par la feuille de route, l’initiative Arabe de paix et les paramètres agréés par l’Union Européenne.
Alors cessons de débattre à l’infini des paramètres et que, sur ces bases, la négociation commence selon un calendrier précis : un mois pour reprendre les discussions, six mois pour se mettre d’accord sur les frontières et la sécurité, un an pour parvenir à un accord définitif.
12.22pm: Unconfirmed reports are coming in that Israeli police have begun fining Palestinian drivers for flying flags from their cars. The Ma’an news agency is saying that Israeli police placed a checkpoint in the north of the West Bank and imposed fines of $40 for small flags and $68 for large ones.
The Palestinian Authority media centre issued a statement saying:
It is reported that the Israeli authorities are imposing fines on Palestinians for flying flags on their cars in support of our campaign at the United Nations. It is not a crime to show pride in your country, nor to support the cause of freedom, with symbols that do no harm. Israel seems incapable of understanding the idea of peaceful protest at its illegal occupation.
12.19pm: More positive Israeli reaction, via the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood:
An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was a "very good" speech. "Obama reaffirmed some basic principles of the legitimate aspirations of Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "But understandably he did not go into minutae." He would discuss details in separate bilateral meetings with Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu, the official added.
"I hope Obama’s wise words will inspire other leaders who are going to address the general assembly," he added.
12.16pm: Palestinians may not have liked Obama’s speech but it has gone over well with many Israelis.
Zalman Shoval, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, says he was favourably impressed:
I think Israelis and Jews on a very basic level will certainly have been touched by his reference to the history of the Jewish people. He mentioned the holocaust but also the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemy states that have attacked and continue to attack us through terrorism.
He did not mention the 1967 borders but he said Palestinians have a a right to know where there borders are just as Israel has a right to its security. He didn’t spell out where those Palestinian borders should be.
12.05pm: Nicolas Sarkozy’s address to the general assembly appears to have had far more in the way of detail on the Israel-Palestine peace process, with the French president proposing a timetable for a "definitive" peace agreement within a year, and called for "intermediate status of observer state" at the UN for Palestine:
Today we are facing a very difficult choice. Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state. But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?
Sarkozy vented his frustration at one point:
Nous ne pouvons plus attendre. La méthode utilisée jusqu’à présent a échoué? Changeons la méthode!
[We cannot wait any longer. If the method used so far isn’t working, then change the method.]
12.01pm: Video of Obama’s general assembly speech today, from the UN website.
11.59am: From the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, rounding up Palestinian reaction to Obama’s speech in Ramallah:
Mustafa Barghouti, an independent politician and former Palestinian presidential candidate, said he was very disappointed by Obama’s speech. "It clearly shows the double standards of the US when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Obama spoke about freedom, human rights, justice in South Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt – but not for the Palestinians.
"He wants us to be hostage to those who are oppressing us by going back to negotiations," he said, adding that 20 years of talks had gained nothing. The absence of any mention of the 1967 borders was surprising.
"His version of reality is wrong. He claims that Israel is the victim in this conflict and that’s not true. He doesn’t see that this is not a struggle between two equal sides, but between an oppressor and the oppressed, and occupier and the occupied."
In Ramallah’s central square, engineer Wasim Ahmed, 24, said: "In the past we liked Obama but now he’s changed his opinions about the Palestinians, and most of us hate him. He doesn’t support a Palestinian state."
Most people in the world backed a Palestinian state, he said. "So what are we waiting for?"
Shop owner Marwan Jubeh said: "Israel and the US are one and the same: the US is Israel, and Israel is the US. Israel doesn’t want to give the Palestinians anything and Obama can’t do anything without Israel because Congress is pro-Israel."
All US presidents were the same, he said.
The Israeli government would not concede anything to the Palestinians, said Khaled Mutahed, another shop owner. "But we will stay here. We’ve got nowhere else to go."
A good measure of the emotional slant of any speech on the Israel-Palestine question is the relative weight given to Jewish and Arab suffering. By that measure, the needle on Obama’s speech was far over to one side. The president went into detail on the impact of suicide bombs and rockets, anti-Semitism in Arab schoolbooks and centuries of persecution on Jews. There was nothing on the pain of Palestinians under occupation, no mention of settlements, other than an acknowledgement of Arab frustration.
11.50am: Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu have appeared at a press conference. Netanyahu said:
I want to thank you, Mr President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations.
That’s the soundbite that Obama came for.
Netanyahu refers dismissively to "the automatic majorities against Israel" at the UN. Then he returned to praise for Obama:
Standing your ground … is a badge of honour and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honour.
11.41am: French president Nicolas Sarkozy is now speaking, although the combination of translator somnambulism and a stuttering webcast isn’t making it easy to follow.
11.30am: The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood gauges reaction to Obama’s speech on the ground in Ramallah – and she says that people in the West Bank feel betrayed by the US position on Palestianian statehood:
I think people here will be very surprised and disappointed that he made no mention of the borders of a Palestinian state being based on the pre-1967 lines. That will be seen as a significant retreat on Obama’s 19 May speech, and an alarming indication of the US stance of the Palestinians’ approach to the UN this week.
I’ve been talking to people in the West Bank today, and they feel very let down, indeed betrayed, by Obama.
11.27am: The key paragraphs from Obama’s UN address dealing with Israel and Palestine:
Now I know that for many in this hall, one issue stands as a test for these principles – and for American foreign policy: the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then – and I believe now – that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek – the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.
Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted. That is the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That is the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is the path to a Palestinian state.
We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There is no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. And it is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can achieve one.
America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.
These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
That truth – that each side has legitimate aspirations – is what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes. That’s what we should be encouraging. This body – founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide; dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every person – must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.
11.25am: Obama’s condemnation of Iran and Syria:
In Iran, we have seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. And as we meet here today, men, women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice – protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. The question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?
Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We have supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. Many of our allies have joined us in this effort. But for the sake of Syria – and the peace and security of the world – we must speak with one voice. There is no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.
11.24am: Key paragraphs from Obama’s UN speech, on the events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya:
One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but ignited a movement. In the face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word freedom. The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. Now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy they deserve.
One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly thirty years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were on Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life – men and women; young and old; Muslim and Christian – demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw; from Selma to South Africa – and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab World.
One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of revolution and said, "Our words are free now. It’s a feeling you can’t explain."
11.22am: From the transcript of Obama’s UN speech, here’s the section on US military action in Iraq and Afghanistan:
I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place – Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization – remained at large. Today, we have set a new direction.
At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq – for its government and Security Forces; for its people and their aspirations.
As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and Security Forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.
So let there be no doubt: the tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical to the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.
Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound of twisted steel and broken hearts in this city. Today, as a new tower rising at Ground Zero symbolizes New York’s renewal, al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.
Obama’s words regarding international support for the Arab transition and other conflicts reinforce the Palestinian UN argument.
President Obama rightly said there is no shortcut to negotiations, but he offered no incentive for the Palestinians to change course.
11.05am: Obama is now meeting with Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to follow.
Here’s the full transcript of Obama’s address today.
11am: The best way of reading Obama’s speech is simple: his primary audience was a domestic US one, with an eye on his flagging approval ratings and diminished re-election prospects.
10.53am: What was missing from Obama’s speech? While he had some pointed lectures for Palestinians and their supporters – telling them that their hostile attitude to Israel doesn’t help their cause – he had nothing to say about the plight of Palestine and Palestinians.
Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama in New York. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
On top of that, Obama certainly did not even attempt to make a direct case against the Palestinian statehood vote, or explain the US’s opposition, other than in vague terms.
10.46am: Now Obama is returning to his central theme:
Peace is hard but we know that it is possible … Together let us see that it is defined by our hopes and not our fears.
And that’s it – 46 minutes long, a decent round of applause, certainly more enthusiastic than the polite smattering for Obama’s introduction. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon comes down from the podium for a handshake.
Obama did cover a lot of ground – and spent more time talking about the Arab Spring than even Israel-Palestine, with no direct reference to the issue of Palestinian statehood.
The closest he came was something of a snub to the UN itself: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now."
In describing Israel as being surrounded by hostile countries, cynics would say Obama was talking to a US domestic political audience. Not a word about settlements and only a brief sideways reference to the issue of Israel’s borders.
10.44am: Away from geopolitics now, and Obama is moving onto wider economic and social issues, including education and human rights: "We must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."
10.38am: Moving on to the issue of nuclear weapons and disarmaments, Obama brings up Iran and North Korea – calling on both to "meet their international obligations".
10.35am: "America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring," Obama says, arguing that Palestine’s friends "do it no favours" by refusing to recognise Israel and its position:
The deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes.
10.29am: Now Obama moves onto the issue of Israel and Palestine, and describes his effort to break the "stalemate" in negotiations.
I know many of you are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I…. There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work.
More bluntly, Obama makes a reference to the Palestinan statehood issue, saying that regional peace will not come from resolutions at the UN:
Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.
Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side.
10.27am: Obama moves on to Yemen and Bahrain. "America is a close friend of Bahrain," he says, but says America will always stand up for the universal rights endorsed by the UN.
"Moreover, the US wil continue to stand with those nations that transition to democracy," says Obama, offering trade and economic support for governments as well as civil society.
10.26am: "But let us remember: peace is hard," says Obama. "We have more work to do," and mentions the regimes in Iran and Syria:
The question for us is clear: will we stand with the Syrian people or with their oppressors?
Obama calls on the UN security council to act:
Now is the time for the United Nations security council to sanction the Syrian regime and to stand with the Syrian people.
10.24am: Obama turns to Libya and the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime: "This is how the international community is supposed to work."
He reels off a list of the regimes overthrown, concluding: "Gaddafi is gone – and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him."
10.21am: "It’s been a difficult decade but we stand at a crossroads in history," says Obama, talking about the "extraordinary transformation" that have taken place since the last such UN general assembly meeting a year ago.
Obama’s theme today apears to be optimistic.
"A vendor lit a spark that took his own life – but he had ignited a movement," says Obama, referring to the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit-seller.
10.17am: "The fact is: peace is hard – but our people demand it," says Obama. "There are still convultions in our world that endanger us all."
Now he mentions that he took office at a time when the US was involved in two wars, and mentions Osama bin Laden and terrorism.
"Today we’ve set a new direction. At the end of this year, America’s military operations in Iraq will be over," says Obama:
As we end the war in Iraq, America and its partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. ending in 2014 … Let there be no doubt: the tide of war is receding.
"We are poised to end these wars in a position of strength," says Obama.
10.11am: Obama is speaking now – and says his subject is peace, and harks back to the origins of the UN, quoting President Roosevelt about the search for a lasting peace.
10.10am: President Obama has arrived at the UN for his speech, which will start as soon as President Rousseff of Brazil concludes.
It looks like she’s winding up – and Obama is being introduced. Here he comes.
10.04am: While we are waiting for Obama to begin speaking, here’s the latest by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal in New York on the plan emerging to avoid a showdown over Palestinian statehood:
The deal is being pushed by the Middle East "Quartet" of the UN, EU, US and Russia, which is attempting to persuade Abbas to back away from a diplomatic confrontation with Washington, which says it will veto the Palestinian bid.
The US president Barack Obama is expected to meet the Palestinian leader at the UN on Wednesday as Abbas comes under intense pressure from the US and Europe to compromise.
Diplomats said the proposed compromise would see Abbas submit his letter to the security council, which would then defer action. In parallel, the Quartet would issue the framework for renewed negotiations that would include a timeline for the birth of a Palestinian state.
10am: Barack Obama is due to speak at the UN general assembly, in an address expected to cover a wide range of international issues but especially focussing on the Middle East and the so-called "Arab Spring" – as well as the controversial issue of the Palestinian statehood bid.
You can follow our earlier live blogging coverage here. And you can leave your comments on Obama’s speech below