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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid