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President Obama Acknowledges 'Brexit' To Silicon Valley Crowd

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Heads of state are trying to figure out what the vote in Britain may mean for business, for politics, for the world. President Obama was careful with his wording in the speech that he delivered yesterday at Stanford University. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: President Obama was on stage at Stanford at an event called the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It's a conference for the young, tech-forward, pro-globalization crowd, people from 170 countries. And of course, the president had to start by acknowledging the major global event that just happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

President BARACK OBAMA: I do think that yesterday's vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization.

SHAHANI: While his remarks were intentionally restrained - his staff says he didn't want to rock global markets - his world view was not. He pointed out that the world has shrunk. It's interconnected.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: All of you represent that interconnection. Many of you are catalyzing it and accelerating it. It promises to bring extraordinary benefits. But it also has challenges. And it also evokes concerns and fears.

SHAHANI: Andrij Zinchenko from Ukraine was indignant and pointed out it was after the vote - not before, but after - that people in Britain suddenly started searching online, asking Google - what is the EU?

ANDRIJ ZINCHENKO: They were voting without, like, proper knowledge what the hell they were voting for. That's simple. They were searching after the voting.

SHAHANI: Vlad Suleanschi from Moldova says, quite idealistically, that in the future, the internet will help prevent the kind of nationalist mindset reflected in the British vote.

VLAD SULEANSCHI: All the notions of, hey, we are we - us against them. All this stuff will disappear immediately as soon as people get access to all the information in the world.

SHAHANI: He said young people, digital natives, mostly voted against leaving the EU because online, national boundaries matter less. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.