President Obama makes Middle East speech

President Obama with Binyamin Netanyahu

President Obama with Binyamin Netanyahu

President Barack Obama has begun his eagerly anticipated speech on the Middle East

The president, who will meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tomorrow in the White House, heralded "a new chapter in American diplomacy".

In his opening remarks, he referred to the blow America had dealt to al-Qaida with the death of Osama bin Laden, and US progress in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He went on to speak about the Arab Spring, and said that in too many countries "power has been concentrated in the hands of the few".

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the president before the speech. She praised him for putting forward "a bold new approach for US foreign policy".

"This is a moment that calls out for clear vision, firm principles and a sophisticated understanding" of America's role.

Last updated: 5:09pm, May 19 2011