News / USA

Obama, Rouhani in Spotlight at UN Assembly

Obama, Rouhani in Spotlight at UN Assemblyi
X
September 25, 2013 6:40 PM
n his speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed a willingness to explore a thaw in relations with Iran and urged the international community to enforce a chemical weapons deal with Syria. He shared some of the spotlight with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who said his country is ready to engage in serious talks about its nuclear program. VOA United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer sums up the day’s events.
Margaret Besheer
U.S. President Barack Obama has told the U.N. General Assembly he is willing to explore a thaw in relations with Iran, while urging consequences for Syria if it does not comply with a deal banning its chemical weapons. Obama shared some of the spotlight Tuesday with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who said his country is ready to engage in serious talks about its nuclear program.

Obama led off the annual debate, saying on the foreign policy front he would use his remaining years in office to pursue two particular issues.

"Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab-Israeli conflict," he said. "While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.”

On the Iran issue, he added that the United States is not seeking regime change in Tehran, and that it respects the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.  But he added that distrust of Iran has “deep roots” and cannot be overcome quickly.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 24, 2013.Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 24, 2013.
x
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 24, 2013.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 24, 2013.
“But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship - one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” said Obama.

On the crisis in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed, Obama said a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate the government’s chemical weapons arsenal should energize efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict.

Obama shared some of the spotlight with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.  Rouhani has portrayed himself as more moderate than hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He said Iran is ready to immediately hold “time bound and results-oriented talks” to build mutual confidence about its suspect nuclear program.

“Our national interests make it imperative we remove any and all reasonable concerns about our peaceful nuclear program,” Rouhani said.

He also criticized international sanctions against Iran, saying they only hurt regular people, not the state.

But after indicating he wants improved relations with the West, an anticipated encounter between Rouhani and Obama did not take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly.  A U.S. official said the Iranians felt it would be too difficult for them at this stage.

Syria figured prominently in the remarks of other leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah. Jordan hosts nearly one million Syrian refugees and is struggling under that burden.

“These are not just numbers; they are people who need food, water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, health care and more,” said Abdullah.

From Africa, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan expressed concern about terrorism in the region, including the attack on a shopping mall in Kenya. He said piracy is another menace to the continent.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, used much of her speech to chastise the United States for recent disclosures that it has spied on her government's internal communications.  She said the right to security of a country’s citizens can never be ensured by violating the human and civil rights of another nation's people.

On Wednesday, the speeches continue, as do a number of high-level meetings on issues from Syria to the Central African Republic.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid