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Obama's Europe visit: redefined ties and a touch of 'political Beatlemania'

European leaders warmed to President Obama's emphasis on pragmatism and mutual values. Playing ping-pong and visiting Moneygall, Ireland, didn't hurt his popular image, either.

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President Obama addressed both houses of Parliament in Britain on Wednesday, the US president so honored.

Andy Rain/AP

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Europe always provides good photo opportunities, but the images of Barack Obama's recent visit were a publicity consultant's dream: the quaint Irish village of Moneygall, hanging out with the queen, high-fiving Prime Minister David Cameron after a game of ping-pong. The media circus lapped it up.

As did the Irish and Britons. ThouĀ­sands of Dubliners turned out to welcome him, thrilled by his efforts to sound Irish and his recently discovered Moneygall roots. In Britain, politicians fawned over him, hoping that some of his charisma might rub off. At Westminster, as the houses of Parliament awaited Mr. Obama's historic address, member of Parliament Tessa Jowell tweeted that the atmosphere was like "political Beatlemania."

Well before he'd moved on to France for the Group of Eight summit, Obama's European tour had already been hailed a success.

But beyond the feel-good photography and the cheerful bonhomie, there was purpose and substance to Obama's trip as well, specifically the need to redefine America's relationship with Europe in a much-changed world. That meant making a renewed commitment to the allies of old, but it also meant outlining a new approach to American foreign affairs.

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