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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs