ABC News' David Kerley and Jon Garcia report:
President Obama spoke to the nation of Brazil today, telling the hemisphere’s second largest economy that he wants to be a partner as this South American country’s skyrocketing growth continues.
“Let us stand together — not as senior and junior partners, but as equal partners, joined in a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect, committed to the progress we can make together. Together, we can advance our common prosperity. As two of the world’s largest economies, we worked side by side during the financial crisis to restore growth and confidence,” he told a crowd of 2,139 at the Teatro Municipal, an historic theater in Rio de Janeiro.
Obama has gone out of his way to praise Brazil during his two days here. The message is seen as critical for the White House, one of the reasons the trip was not cancelled as the president prepared to launch the U.S. military strikes against Libya.
The president talked about universal rights as he referred to the trouble in the middle east and acknowledged how Brazil has moved from dictatorship to democracy.
“We yearn to live without fear or discrimination; to choose how we are governed and to shape our own destiny. These are not American or Brazilian ideas. They are not Western ideas. They are universal rights, and we must support them everywhere,” he said.
The overriding message from the President came in one line of his 25-minute speech: “I am here to tell you that the American people don’t just recognize Brazil’s success — we root for it.”
– David Kerley and Jon Garcia