A progressive and peaceful engagement with the wider world is vital from President Obama in his second term, says Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion.

WS OBAMACommenting after Barack Obama's second inauguration speech, which largely concentrated on American domestic issues, Dr Bennion said he hoped the President realised the massive potential he still had to make a difference in the wider world.

Phil Bennion said: "It would be understandable if the financial crisis and the failures of military deployments by his predecessor encouraged America to turn away from global leadership but I hope this does not happen.

"Just as one of the most important jobs of the EU is to promote peace, trade and security in the rest of the world, there is also a massive contribution that America, particularly under this President, can make. 

"On global economic recovery, on climate change and on promoting peace, especially in the Middle East and over issues such as Kashmir, I hope we see more from President Obama in his second term. 

"In his Inauguration address, he mentioned several issues which most annoy his opponents, climate change was one of them, but the focus of the speech was very domestic. 

"The EU, thanks in no small part to the UK, has tried to force the pace on a greener global economy but without American support, it is an uphill struggle. Obama was too cautious in his first term.

"But the appalling recent events in the Algerian desert also underscore another problem. There is no exclusively military solution for terrorism, it needs a broad approach to build peace and prosperity, though I think the French intervention in Mali was justified and can succeed if the aims are adhered to.

"Obama has done the right thing to get out of Iraq and recognise the limits of what can be achieved in Afghanistan, but American leadership is often more effective when not tied to military action.

"The Arab Spring was perhaps in some ways fuelled by Obama's inspiring speeches shortly after he was first elected. It still can be a route to defuse Islamic fundamentalism, but America's failure to close Guantanamo and lack of follow-up diplomatic action since in key areas, especially Israel and Palestine, threatens that potential.

"Peaceful but persistent engagement by President Obama can tip the balance to benefit not just America but the rest of us."