"We must be honest with ourselves," Obama said. "In recent years, we've allowed our alliance to drift."
The new U.S. president said that despite the bitter feelings that were generated by Iraq, the United States and its allies must stand together because "al-Qaida is still a threat."
Speaking before a French and German audience at a town-hall style gathering, Obama also encouraged a skeptical Europe to support his revamped strategy for rooting out terrorism suspects in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and said Europe should not expect America to should the burden of sending in combat troops by itself.
"This is a joint problem," Obama said on the cusp of the NATO summit. "And it requires a joint effort."
He opened his appearance with a 25-minute prepared speech in which he set a dramatic, long-term goal of "a world without nuclear weapons." He said he would outline details of his nonproliferation proposal in a speech in Prague on Sunday, near the end of a European trip that is spanning five countries in eight days.
"Even with the Cold War now over, the spread of nuclear weapons or the theft of nuclear material could lead to the extermination of any city on the planet," Obama said.
Reaching out to young foreigners
He held the campaign-like event in the midst of his first European trip as president as he sought to strengthen the United States' standing in the world while working with foreign counterparts to right the troubled global economy.
Obama said the United States shares blame for the crisis, but that "every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead — especially now."
Back home, his administration was trying to weather the fallout of another dismal monthly jobs report that was announced as Obama spoke in France. The jobless rate jumped to 8.5 percent, the highest since late 1983, as a wide range of employers eliminated a net total of 663,000 jobs in March.
Obama in Europe
President Obama heads to continental Europe after attending the G-20 summit in London.
Overseas, Obama invited questions from his French and German audience heavily made up of students in a sports arena. Even though Obama talked about the event as a way to interact with young foreigners, he did most of the talking and took only a handful of questions.
He acknowledged "my French and German are terrible" but noted that translators were on hand. Much like during his presidential campaign, Obama paced the stage with a microphone, like a talk show host.
'America's shown arrogance'
In his opening remarks, he underscored European and American ties and appeared intent on improving the U.S. image abroad, which suffered under George W. Bush. "I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership," Obama said, bluntly claiming that the relationship between the United States and Europe had gone adrift, with blame on both sides.
"In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world," Obama said.
April 3: President Obama and France's Sarkozy hold a joint news conference in Strasbourg.
Instead of celebrating Europe's dynamic union and seeking to work with you, Obama said, "there have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
"But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans chose to blame America for much of what's bad," Obama said.
He added: "On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth.
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