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Obama promises he will "make BP pay" for damage

President vows to "fight this spill" in Oval Office address, also urging development of clean energy

US President Barack Obama used his first national address from the Oval Office last night to promise to "make BP pay" for damage caused by the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He also emphasised the need to end America's oil dependency.

Obama, who has come under fire for being slow to grasp the enormity of the environmental disaster, described the spill as an assault on US shores.

He said that he was due to meet with company executives, and would tell them that they must set up a fund to compensate those affected by the spill.

He said he would meet BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and "inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness".

Obama added: "We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes."

Speaking about the need for a clean energy future, he said: "I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater."

However, he did not offer more detail on how this could be done.

The Oval Office is used by presidents to make addresses on vital national issues.