THEODORE, Ala. (AP) -- In a newly optimistic tone, President Barack Obama promised Monday that "things are going to return to normal" along the stricken Gulf Coast and the region's fouled waters will be in better shape than before the catastrophic BP oil spill.
He declared Gulf seafood safe to eat and said his administration was redoubling inspections and monitoring to make sure it stays that way. And his White House said Monday it had wrested apparent agreement from BP PLC to set up an independent, multibillion-dollar compensation fund for people and businesses suffering from the spill's effects.
Obama said the goal was to pay legitimate claims "justly, fairly, promptly."
Obama's two-day trip in the Gulf comes before pivotal events later in the week: a prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office on his administration's response and a showdown the next day between the president and BP executives.
WATCH: Obama details the efforts to deal with the disaster: