President Barack Obama addresses an audience during a campaign fundraising event, in Boston, Wednesday, May 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) By Steven Senne
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is defending sanctions against Syria's repressive leader and offering new financial help for nations that support democracy in his first comprehensive response to revolts across the Arab world.
In a speech Thursday at the State Department, Obama will try to erase any doubt that the U.S. stands behind a feverish call for change in North Africa and the Middle East.
The president plans to explain new sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad as the U.S. government toughens its message for the repressive leader.
Obama is also expected to announce aid for Egypt and Tunisia, the two nations seen as models while protests for freedoms elsewhere have been crushed.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)