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KENNER, Louisiana (Reuters) - President Barack Obama castigated British-based energy giant BP on Friday for failing so far to scrap plans to pay a quarterly dividend to shareholders.
On his third trip to the Louisiana Gulf Coast since the oil spill began, Obama told reporters that BP should not be "nickel and diming" residents along the oil-stained Gulf of Mexico coast over damage claims while spending billions in shareholder dividends.
He was speaking after BP put off a decision on whether to suspend paying its next quarterly dividend as some U.S. lawmakers had demanded.
Obama said he understood that BP had legal obligations to shareholders, but it also had moral and legal obligations toward Gulf Coast residents, many of whom have seen their way of life threatened by the massive oil spill.
Obama, who has repeatedly vowed to hold the company accountable for the disaster and make sure that it foots the bill, called on BP to pay damage claims expeditiously.
He also said it was too early to say whether BP's latest attempt to cap its gushing deep sea oil well would be successful, but for now it appeared to be working.
Reporting by Jeff Mason, Editing by Stacey Joyce