MOSCOW - The following are key excerpts from the speech by U.S. President Barack Obama to graduating students of the New Economic School in Moscow on Tuesday. The text was provided by the White House.


I speak to you today with deep respect for Russia's timeless heritage. Russian writers have helped us understand the complexities of the human experience, and recognize eternal truths.

Indeed, Russia's heritage has touched every corner of the world, and speaks to the humanity that we share. That includes my own country, which has been blessed with Russian immigrants, for decades we've been enriched by Russian culture, and enhanced by Russian cooperation.


To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia.

As President John Kennedy said, no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War.

So as we honor this past, we also recognize the future benefit that will come from a strong and vibrant Russia.


In the short period since the end of the Cold War, we have already seen India, Pakistan and North Korea conduct nuclear tests. Without a fundamental change, do any of us truly believe that the next two decades will not bring about the further spread of these nuclear weapons?

That is why America is committed to stopping nuclear proliferation, and ultimately seeking a world without nuclear weapons ... And while I know this goal won't be met soon, pursuing it provides the legal and moral foundation to prevent the proliferation and eventual use of nuclear weapons.


In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over ...

Given our interdependence, any world order that tries to elevate one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game -- progress must be shared.

That is why I have called for a 'reset' in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House, though that is important.

And I've had excellent discussions with both your president and prime minister.

It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and to expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress.

Neither America nor Russia would benefit from a nuclear arms race in East Asia or the Middle East. That is why we should be united in opposing North Korea's efforts to become a nuclear power, and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

And I'm pleased that President Medvedev and I agreed upon a joint threat assessment of the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st Century, including from Iran and North Korea.


I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defense in Europe. My Administration is reviewing these plans to enhance the security of America, Europe and the world. I have made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran, and has nothing to do with Russia.

In fact, I want us to work together with Russia on a missile defense architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated and that is in our mutual interest.


Now in addition to securing the world's most dangerous weapons, a second area where America has a critical national interest is in isolating and defeating violent extremists.

For years, al Qaeda and its affiliates have defiled a great religion of peace and justice, and ruthlessly murdered men, women and children of all nationalities and faiths. Indeed, above all, they have murdered Muslims.

These extremists have killed in Amman and Bali; Islamabad and Kabul; and they have the blood of Americans and Russians on their hands.

They are plotting to kill more of our people, and they benefit from safe-havens that allow them to train and operate -- particularly along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


We seek no bases, nor do we want to control these nations. Instead, we want to work with international partners, including Russia, to help Afghans and Pakistanis advance their own security and prosperity.

That is why I'm pleased that Russia has agreed to allow the United States to supply our coalition forces through your territory. Neither America nor Russia has an interest in an Afghanistan or Pakistan governed by the Taliban.

It is time to work together on behalf of a different future -- a future in which we leave behind the great game of the past and the conflict of the present; a future in which all of us contribute to the security of Central Asia.

I believe that the market is the greatest force for creating and distributing wealth that the world has known. But wherever the market is allowed to run rampant -- through excessive risk-taking, a lack of regulation, or corruption -- then all are endangered, whether we live on the Mississippi or the Volga.

In America, we are taking unprecedented steps to jumpstart our economy and reform our system of regulation. But just as no nation can wall itself off from the consequences of a global crisis, no one nation can serve as the sole engine of global growth.

And while this crisis has shown us the risk that comes with change, that risk is overwhelmed by opportunity. Think of what's possible today that was unthinkable two decades ago.

A young woman with an Internet connection in Bangalore, India can compete with anyone, anywhere. An entrepreneur with a start-up company in Beijing can take his business global.

ON RULE OF LAW, DEMOCRACY Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, minorities, and workers to protest for full and equal rights at a time when we were denied the rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines, and ended abuses of power.

Independent media have exposed corruption at all levels of business and government. Competitive elections allow us to change course and hold our leaders accountable.

If our democracy did not advance those rights, than I, as a person of African ancestry, wouldn't be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a President.

Because at the time of our founding, I had no rights, people who looked like me. But it is because of that process that I can stand before you as the President of the United States...

The arc of history shows us that governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not. Governments that represent the will of their people are far less likely to descend into failed states, to terrorize their citizens, or to wage war on others.


America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country.

And we haven't done as we should have on that front.

Even as we meet here today, America supports the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not.


You get to decide what comes next. You get to choose where change will take us. Because the future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground, the future belongs to young people with the education and imagination to create.

That is the source of power in this century. And given all that has happened in your two decades on Earth, just imagine what you can create in the years to come ...
As you move this story forward, look to the future that can be built if we refuse to be burdened by the old obstacles and old suspicions; look to the future that can be built if we partner on behalf of the aspirations we hold in common. Together, we can build a world where people are protected, prosperity is enlarged, and our power truly serves progress.

And it is all in your hands.

(Compiled by Dmitry Solovyov and Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Michael Stott)