News / USA

    Obama UN Speech to Cover Syria, Chemical Weapons, Iran, Arab Transformations

    President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, Sept. 16, 2013.
    President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, Sept. 16, 2013.
    Syria's civil war and the use of chemical weapons, Iran's nuclear program, and transformations in the Arab world will be key topics in U.S. President Barack Obama's address next Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly.

    Recent statements by Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, about a desire to increase cooperation and engagement have increased speculation about a possible meeting with Obama.

    According to the White House, no such meeting is planned, although officials reiterate Obama's longstanding willingness to consider direct bilateral contacts if they hold potential for diplomatic solutions.

    Rouhani's engagement

    Rouhani has said Iran is not seeking to build nuclear weapons and will under no circumstances "seek any weapons of mass destruction."

    In a Washington Post opinion piece, he spoke of pursuing constructive dialogue with world powers.

    The White House attributes the Iranian outreach to unity by the international community, and the impact of sanctions, to pressure Iran to clarify details of its nuclear program.

    Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes reiterated that the United States is open to engagement with Iran's government, although there is no "open-ended window" for diplomacy. He also said the U.S. believes talks with Iran need to move forward on a multilateral basis.
     
    "We also very strongly believe that the forum for resolving this issue includes the P5+1, given the international unity we have built with Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany on this issue, so even as we indicated an openness to dialogue with the Iranians, we have made the P5+1 a forum for these discussions with the Iranians," said Rhodes.

    Focus on Mideast, North Africa

    In his speech to the General Assembly, Obama will focus on events and U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa, providing what Rhodes said will be an update on America's approach.

    Syria will be a key part of that, including a call for the international community to take a firm position against the use of chemical weapons.

    "He will reinforce the need for the international community to stand strongly against the use of chemical weapons, and continue to argue for a clear diplomatic process to put Assad's chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroy them, including our support for a U.N. Security Council resolution that enforces consequences on the Assad regime should they fail to cooperate with the international community in that effort," said Rhodes.

    At the same time, Obama will underscore the importance of a political solution to the Syrian civil war, one Rhodes said cannot include President Bashar al-Assad.

    Obama also will point to the direct talks Israel and Palestinians are holding on final status issues. He meets Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The president's schedule at this point includes two other formal bilateral meetings, with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and President Michel Suleiman of Lebanon.  

    The talks with Lebanon's president will focus on refugee flows from Syria and support for Lebanon's democratic process.

    With Nigeria's president, Obama will discuss economic issues, preparations for Nigerian elections, and security cooperation as Nigeria contends with threats from militant group Boko Haram and a northern insurgency.

    Obama also will host an event focusing attention on growing challenges and restrictions on civil society around the globe.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora