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Obama Returns From First Official Trip to Europe

The American president signaled policy changes during trip that included a surprise visit to Iraq. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

President Obama returned to the United States this week after his first visit to Europe since taking office in January.

On his way back, the president made an unannounced stop in Iraq. He met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. He also visited American military troops at Camp Victory, near Baghdad. President Obama offered his thanks and support to a group of cheering troops. He said it is time for the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country. Mister Obama has said the United States will remove most American fighting forces from Iraq by the end of two thousand ten.

Earlier, Mister Obama traveled to Turkey for his first official visit to a mostly Muslim country. He met with university students and with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. He also spoke to the Turkish parliament. He promised to rebuild relations between the United States and the Islamic world.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam."

Before visiting Iraq and Turkey, the president was in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. He met with European Union leaders and spoke to a crowd of about twenty thousand people. He urged other nations to join in an effort to free the world of nuclear weapons.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:"Today I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

He said all nations with nuclear weapons should be involved.

PRESIDENT OBAMA : "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it."

The president spoke just hours after North Korea launched a long-range rocket. He said the North Korean launch proves the need for nations to cooperate to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to remove those that already exist. He also described the nuclear goal of Iran as a serious international threat.

Last week, President Obama attended a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the French-German border. He said he was pleased that the NATO allies supported his new plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan. NATO agreed to provide more manpower and money. It will become heavily involved in training the Afghan military and police. More troops will be sent to help with security leading up to Afghanistan's national elections in August.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the NATO allies are pleased to work with the new American president. He said they trust him, and that he is speaking words they have been waiting to hear.

Mister Obama's trip may also have increased his support at home. New public opinion studies show sixty-six percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing. A CBS News and New York Times study found thirty-nine percent say the country is moving in the right direction, up from fifteen percent in January.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. Transcripts and archives of our reports are at I'm Steve Ember.