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Obama Addresses 'Extraordinary Change' in Middle East, North Africa


President Barack Obama delivers a policy address on events in the Middle East at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, May 19, 2011

President Barack Obama delivers a policy address on events in the Middle East at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, May 19, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed the "extraordinary change" taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, but said too many countries have met the calls for change with violence.

Obama, speaking Thursday at the State Department, said the most extreme example is Libya, where he said Moammar Gadhafi launched a war against his own people. He said thousands of people would have been killed in Libya if the United States and its partners did not act.

He said Syria has also chosen the "path of murder and mass arrests." Obama called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to either lead a transition to democracy or "get out the way." He called on the Syrian government to stop shooting protestors, allow peaceful protests and stop unjust arrests.

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