Obama to address British parliament

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US President Barack Obama is to have the rare honour of addressing both Houses of Parliament during his state visit to Britain in May, the speaker's office confirmed Wednesday.

Obama will address parliamentarians in the historic Westminster Hall -- a rare honour bestowed on few world leaders, said a spokesman for House of Commons speaker John Bercow said.

Obama will speak to members of the elected lower Commons and the unelected upper House of Lords on May 25.

Last September, Pope Benedict XVI became the third foreign dignitary to address both houses in Westminster Hall since World War II, following French president Charles de Gaulle in 1960 and South African president Nelson Mandela in 1996.

Obama and his wife Michelle will visit London from May 24 to 26 in the first state visit by a US president since that of George W. Bush in 2003.

Bush was to have addressed both houses but cancelled the speech due to anti-war protests.

Former US presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan gave speeches in the Royal Gallery in 1995 and 1982 respectively.

© 2011 AFP

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