News / USA

Middle East Concerns Dominate Opening of UN Assembly

Margaret Besheer
U.S. President Barack Obama urged world leaders to speak out strongly against violence and extremism in the wake of an anti-Islam video that sparked international protests.  Speaking Tuesday at the start of the U.N. General Assembly annual debate, Obama and other leaders also demanded an end to the violence that has killed more than 20,000 people in Syria.  
 
Obama said the recent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, was not just an attack on America, but upon the ideals on which the United Nations was founded.
 
He called the anti-Islam amateur video that triggered the attack and subsequent protests around the world “crude and disgusting” and reasserted that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the film, which was made by a man in California.

Watch President Obama's Full Speech to the U.N. General Assembly
 
“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents.  There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.  There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan," he said. 
 
Obama also sought to reassure Israel and warn Iran over its controversial nuclear program. “Let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so.  But that time is not unlimited," he said. 
 
He added that the United States would do what it must to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
On Syria, he said the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people.
 
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, whose government supports the Syrian opposition, said the situation has reached an “unacceptable phase,” and he urged Arab countries to intervene.  “In view of this, I think it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria and the killing of innocent people and their displacement, in order to guarantee a peaceful transition of power in Syria," he said.  
 
France’s president, Francois Hollande, who made his General Assembly debut, said his government will recognize a provisional transitional government in Syria as soon as it is formed.  “This government will itself have to give guarantees that every community in Syria will be respected and will be able to live in security in their own country," he said.
 
He also expressed deep concern about the violence and hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, and in particular Mali, saying the occupation of northern Mali by terrorist groups is “intolerable” and “unacceptable.”  “France, I am announcing here, will support any initiative that would enable Africans themselves to resolve this issue in the framework of international law with a clear mandate from the Security Council.  Yes, Mali must recover its territorial integrity and the terrorists must be eliminated from this region in the Sahel," he said. 
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the weeklong proceedings, telling leaders they are meeting at a time of “turmoil, transition and transformation” and urging them to use their voices to lower tensions, not raise them.

Related video of presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More