Transcript: Q&A by Obama, Brown

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President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Source: White House)

President Barack Obama: Hello, everybody. Good to see you. Where are the Brits? They’re over there.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown: In fact, they’re everywhere. (Laughter.)

President Obama: Are they? They’re spread out?

All right, my understanding is we’re going to do four questions, and we’ll just alternate. I’ll start off with Jennifer Loven of AP.

Question: Thank you, sir. I’d like to ask you about the letter that you’ve written to the Russian President about the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe. Can you talk about why sort of a quid pro quo seemed like the smartest approach?

President Obama: You know, I think that the report that was in The New York Times didn’t accurately characterize the letter. What we had was a very lengthy letter talking about a whole range of issues from nuclear proliferation to how are we going to deal with a set of common security concerns along the Afghan border and terrorism. And what I said in the letter is the same thing that I’ve said publicly, which is that the missile defense that we have talked about deploying is directed towards not Russia, but Iran. That has always been the concern, that you had potentially a missile from Iran that threatened either the United States or Europe.

And what I said in the letter was that, obviously, to the extent that we are lessening Iran’s commitment to nuclear weapons, then that reduces the pressure for, or the need for a missile defense system.

In no way does that in any — does that diminish my commitment to making sure that Poland, the Czech Republic and other NATO members are fully enjoying the partnership of the Alliance and U.S. support with respect to their security.

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