News / USA

Obama Demands Syria Action, Diplomacy With Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 24, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 24, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama has urged world leaders to enforce strong consequences for Syria if it fails to follow through with commitments to turn all chemical weapons over to international control. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, he also held out a hand to Iran.

Syria was the first major topic in a 45-minute speech outlining stakes for the United States, and the world body, across the broader Middle East and North Africa.

Saying "convulsions" in the region have "laid bare deep divisions in societies," Obama said popular movements for change have "too often been answered by violence," with sectarian conflict re-emerging.

Obama pointed to "overwhelming" evidence Syria's government was responsible for the August 21 chemical weapons attack. To suggest otherwise, he said, is an "insult to human reason".

U.N. credibility

The president said the credibility of the United Nations is at stake in how the Security Council deals with the Syrian crisis.

“Now, there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verity that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if it fails to do so. If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing even the most basic of international laws," said the president.

Obama said the U.S. is committed to working "a political track" to end Syria's civil war. He criticized Russia and Iran for insisting on President Bashar al-Assad's "continued rule."

Noting criticisms of the United States, Obama outlined U.S. policy during the remainder of his presidency.

The U.S., he said, will use all elements of its power, including military force, to secure its interests, to confront aggression against allies and partners, to ensure the free flow of energy, and to dismantle terrorist networks.

Obama also addressed recent conciliatory signs that Iran wants to do more to address international concerns about its nuclear program

Despite deep suspicions between the U.S. and Iran, Obama said statements by both governments should offer hope for progress. However, he added, words must be translated into action.

"These statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful," said Obama. "But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."

Obama said sanctions arose from Iranian government choices, adding that the world has "seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past." But he said he is committed to seeing diplomacy play out.

"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe that the diplomatic path must be tested. For while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world," he said.

Meeting with Iran

Iran, which denies its nuclear program is designed to develop nuclear weapons, is taking part in a meeting here in New York on Thursday of foreign ministers from the P5+1 group of nations.

Obama also spoke about what he called "significant political risks" taken by Israeli and Palestinian leaders in holding direct talks on so-called "final status" issues.

If there is to be peace and stability in the Middle East, the president said, friends of both Israel and the Palestinians must now be willing to to take risks as well.

"Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state. And we should say so clearly. Arab states, and those who have supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution and a secure Israel," he said.

Obama addressed the situation in Egypt, where the military ousted democratically-elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

Noting that the U.S. was criticized by all sides, he said Washington's approach reflects a larger point about U.S. support for basic principles and ideals.

"The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests. Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said.

Obama said though U.S. leaders may at times be accused of hypocrisy and inconsistency, the United States intends to be engaged in the region "for the long haul."

The president also issued a challenge to world leaders over what he called tough choices they face in responding to violence against civilians, citing among other things U.S. assistance in Mali, and in Central Africa against the Lord's Resistance Army.

There will be times, he said, when the international community will be called to act. This requires new thinking, the president said, because the U.S. cannot bear the burden alone of responding to mass atrocities and protecting human rights.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 25, 2013 10:58 AM
Demand what action on Syria? When he had opportunity to take action on Syria, what did he do? Who does Mr. president think he is fooling? America is known for action when needed, or filibuster when action is not necessary. But naivety in the face of integrity queries or threat to American dignity is out of it. So Mr. president can say any other thing, not talking of action in Syria, for he has missed it all; it's now beyond him.

Diplomacy with Iran? This may be another way the president wants to escape tripping over his own red line. This way, he hopes to persuade Iran to change its course - if only temporarily, perhaps until he runs through his tenure - so to restart the trouble with whoever will be "unfortunate" to inherit it as his successor. Too bad for Mr. President to pass the buck. This makes the office of the president vacant. America presently has no president - if their presidents were those we saw in Ronald Regan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, etc - what it has now is a setback. There is only a spokesman in the White House right now, an orator. Presidency of any country does not consist in oratory, because presidency is like a war that is not won on/with words.


by: Igor from: Russia
September 24, 2013 11:02 PM
Mr.Obama, Have you read the following article yet? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2401378/Agent-Orange-Vietnamese-children-suffering-effects-herbicide-sprayed-US-Army-40-years-ago.html Please keep in mind that your administration and its predecessors are still denying their responsibility towards the poor victims of the Agent Orange, a kind of chemical weapon used indiscriminately by your army against innocent people during the Vietnam war 40 years ago. It was a horrible crime against humanity that had not been punished yet because you are a superpower so those poor people could do nothing to ask for justice to be done. You can never hide away a crime against million people. So stop act as a hypocrite!


by: Anonymous
September 24, 2013 3:11 PM
What Obama is doing is great. Heck he even pledged $339 million in humanitarian for Syrian refugees. How much has bashar al assad pledged for his victims? The world should come down harder than ever on bashar al assad. This burden he has created, by murdering, bombing, and creating genocide in Syria has cost many many other countries in the world many millions of dollars. It's time we put an end to his chaos and let the Syrian people vote on who they want and arm them from foreign groups like al qaeda who think they are going to plant their government in Syria once assad falls... FSA are going to be caught in a bad situation once assad falls, the world doesn't want al qaeda jumping into his seat.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid