Washington (CNN) — The United States will support efforts for reform across the Middle East and North Africa, including “transitions toward democracy,” President Barack Obama said Thursday.
In a speech at the U.S. State Department laying out his policies toward the region, the president said he is marking “a new chapter in American diplomacy.”
He pointed to recent popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. “The events of the past six months show us that strategies of oppression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore,” Obama said.
He also announced the launch of “a comprehensive trade and investment partnership initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland.” The United States will work with the European Union to facilitate more trade in the region, he said.