"And just as we identify with the victims, it's also important for us, I think, to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves. And I want to express particular thanks to Chancellor Merkel and the German people because it's not easy to look into the past in this way, and acknowledge it and make something of it -- make a determination that they will stand guard against acts like this happening again."
Wiesel said he hopes Obama can affect change.
"Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you, because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place where people will stop waging war. Every war is absurd and meaningless. Where people will stop hating one another. Where people will hate the otherness of the other rather than respect it," he said.
Earlier in the day Obama continued his push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palistinean peace process, telling the Palestinians they have responsibilities to uphold in the ongoing efforts for a settlement.
Obama said that while his statements telling the Israelis to stop settlement construction have received significant attention, there has been less focus on the pressure he is putting on the Palestinians and Arab states to take concrete actions to move closer to peace.
"When it comes to the Palestinians, we know what they're supposed to be doing. They have to continue to make progress on security in the West Bank. They have to deal with incitement issues," he said.
Obama said the Palestinian Authority has not offered a firm commitment to control the border areas that Israel has concerns about in a two-state solution, and he also called out the Palestinian authority for corruption and mismanagement.
The president said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could do more. "Now I think, to his credit, President Abbas has made progress on this issue -- but not enough."
Obama said the moment to act is now and announced he was dispatching his Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, back to the region next week to sit down with all the relevant parties. He acknowledged that the United States "can't force peace" but credited his young administration with "extraordinary progress.""
"You've probably seen more sustained activity on this issue in the first five months than you would have seen in most previous administrations," he said.
Obama reiterated the cautionary tone that White House officials used yesterday and noted that his speech in Cairo, while highly anticipated and long in the works, was "just one speech."
"It doesn't replace all the hard work that's going to have to be done, that was done before the speech and that's going to have to be done in the years to come in order to solve what has been a 60 year problem," he said.
Obama spent last night in Dresden, Germany, a city destroyed in a two-day bombing campaign in February 1945 and rebuilt only after German reunification. Today he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Dresden Castle, which was severely damaged during that air attack and has yet to be completely rebuilt.
Thursday in Cairo in a speech aimed at the Muslim world, Obama issued a scathing rebuke to Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists.