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British leader visits Boston Marathon memorial

Honors victims, stops in at MIT

Britain’s prime minister, ­David Cameron, paying his ­respects at the memorial for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, declared Tuesday that societies must work to prevent young minds from being poisoned by a “radical extremist narrative.’’

Later in the morning, he stopped by MIT and chatted with young inventors and ­entrepreneurs.

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“Look, there is really a vital role for law enforcement, a really vital role for intelligence. There’s a tough side to all of this that we have to get right,” Cameron, accompanied by Governor Deval Patrick, said at the Copley Square memorial on the second day of his Boston visit.

“But there’s also a side, as I said, of challenging the narrative of violence, of extremism, that we have to get right. . . . And there’s always more work to do on that,” he added.

Cameron said that the way to challenge that narrative is “by standing up for the values we believe in, for freedom, for democracy, for the fact we’re proud to live in an open and tolerant society.

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“It’s hard to believe that people can do these things to countries like ours, when we are freedom-loving, when we are democracies, when we do value people’s rights. But these things do happen, and we have to fight them and challenge them, and that’s what I know you’re going to do right here in Boston,” he said in a transcript of his ­remarks provided by Patrick’s office.

After his solemn stop at the memorial, Cameron traveled to MIT’s Media Lab, where he sat and talked with students.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, visited the Marathon bomb memorial in Copley Square with Governor Deval Patrick. Later, he visited MIT and talked with students.

Cameron witnessed a demonstration by doctoral candidate Kenton Williams, whose project, called Affective Intelligent Driving Agent, is a personal navigation robot for vehicles that is capable of “social interaction” with the driver.

The small, square robotic unit rose from the dashboard and greeted the prime minister by name and even chuckled during the demonstration, drawing a hearty laugh from Cameron.

The prime minister toured the Media Lab to learn more about how the institute combines innovation with entrepreneurship. He sat on a couch with about a dozen students, graduates, and staff.

“It’s much easier for him to understand that when we introduce him to students who do this every day, who have these incredibly impressive projects that come out of the labs, and we join people across campus, the business school students, the engineering school students, and they work together,’’ said Fiona Murray, faculty ­director for the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Murray, a British citizen, said entrepreneurship is a key component of the United Kingdom’s push to reinvigorate its economy through a European “prosperity agenda.”

“It was a pretty cool experience to be an undergraduate and talk to a head of state about my experiences here,’’ said ­Akshar Wunnava, 20, a third-year undergraduate majoring in chemical engineering and economics.

As part of his US visit, ­Cameron met with President Obama Monday. At a White House press conference, ­Cameron called the Marathon attacks “an appalling outrage.”

On Monday evening, he visited Patrick at the State House in Boston.

Brian Ballou can be reached at
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