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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora