WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, praised international diplomacy for harsher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program than the country has ever before faced.

In an address of more than an hour, Obama focused on the US economy, education and deficit, with only passing references to Iraq, Afghanistan and al- Qaida, and no mention at all of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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He did, though, highlight the nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

“Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher sanctions and tighter sanctions than ever before,” he said. “And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.”

He declared that America would overcome the threat posed by al-Qaida despite its efforts to attack the US.

“In Pakistan, al-Qaida’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield.

Their safe havens are shrinking,” Obama said. “And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.”

His vow received a standing ovation, as did his words that as terrorist plots were planned against America, the country was responding “with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.”

Tea Party advocates, especially, found little to cheer in Obama’s address. In Indiana, college secretary Monica Boyer hosted a small viewing party for three board members of the Tea Party group, Kosciusko County Silent No More. She said they all laughed when the president promised more government transparency, and were unimpressed with the gesture of the Democratic and Republican members of Congress sitting together to watch the speech.

“A ploy from the Democrats,” she called the move, saying: “If this is the first step that the Republicans take to working together, I don’t care where they sit, but we will be watching their policies very closely. We did not elect them to compromise. We did not elect them to move to the center. We elected conservatives...

“So if they just join hands and sing Kumbaya,” she said, “that will be the last year we will have faith in the Republican Party.”



Still others said they were waiting for Obama to back up his “centrist”-sounding proposals with action – namely through cuts in federal spending.

“I want to see him actually reduce spending, not just freeze it,” said Kenneth Cobb, a Tea Party organizer from Bemidji, Minnesota.

Cobb said he’s all for civil, levelheaded dialogue, but not at the expense of the right to speak out against a federal government he sees as spending itself into a “slavery to debt.

“You can still be civil without compromising on principles,” he said.

AP contributed to this report.

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