Obama's UN General Assembly speech condemns extremism

 

President Obama: "It is the obligation of all leaders to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism"

US President Barack Obama has urged global leaders to rally against extremism in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mr Obama said it was the obligation of all leaders to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism, as he framed his speech with references to the US ambassador murdered in Libya.

Unrest across the Middle East is set to dominate discussion at the summit.

Mr Obama also again stressed the US would not allow Iran nuclear weapons.

He said the US would "do what we must" to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear arms. Six weeks before the US election, the president said a nuclear-armed Iran was "not a challenge that can be contained".

'Marginalise hatred'

Start Quote

US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in August 2012

Chris Stevens embodied the best of America”

End Quote US President Obama

Iran's nuclear programme and the 18-month conflict in Syria have featured strongly in Tuesday's speeches at the Assembly, as have the recent protests across the Muslim world in response to a US-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

The US president condemned the violence that erupted over the "disgusting" anti-Islam video as "an attack on UN ideals".

Referring to the US envoy who was killed in Benghazi on 11 September during protests sparked by the video, Mr Obama challenged the UN to affirm that "our future will be determined by people like Christopher Stevens, and not by his killers".

"It is time to marginalise those who - even when not resorting to violence - use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics," said Mr Obama.

"That brand of politics only makes it harder to achieve what we must do together: educating our children and creating the opportunities they deserve; protecting human rights and extending democracy's promise."

'Regional calamity'

While not formally on the General Assembly's agenda, Syria has been a focal point of debate.

Analysis

President Obama cast the violent Arab protests against America as a battle of universal values.

It was epitomised, on the one hand, by the murdered US Ambassador Christopher Stevens representing the pursuit of freedom, dignity and justice and, on the other, by the crowd that killed him, driven by hatred and intolerance.

Mr Obama used that as a paradigm for the Arab Spring, encouraging its leaders to choose the former model not the latter. But although eloquent, the speech was long on principle and short on US policies that have stoked Arab anger, such as America's unstinting support for Israel over the Palestinians.

Mr Obama had nothing new to say about Syria - an issue which he tried and failed to solve through the UN. He did sharpen his rhetoric slightly on Iran's alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons, but did not bow to Israeli pressure to set a red line for military action.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said the UN Security Council's failure to end the conflict meant it would be better for Arab countries to "interfere" in Syria.

French President Francois Hollande said the current Syrian leadership had no future, pledged to recognise a new provisional government as soon as it was formed and called on the UN to protect liberated areas of the country.

Opening the meeting earlier on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the fighting in Syria as "a regional calamity with global ramifications".

He called for action from the divided UN Security Council and said "the international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control".

The US president was blunter in his assessment, saying Bashar Assad's regime must end.

On Monday UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned on his return from a visit to Damascus and Syrian refugee camps in neighbouring Jordan and Turkey that the situation was "extremely bad and getting worse".

Diplomats have played down expectations for Mr Brahimi's mission, says the BBC's Barbara Plett in New York, with no sign of fundamental divisions on the Security Council being bridged.

In other developments:

  • Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari defended his government's record against extremism, saying no country had suffered more in the fight against terrorism; he said acts that endangered the world by "misusing freedom of expression" should be criminalised
  • Afghanistan's leader Hamid Karzai called on the UN to ease sanctions on Taliban leaders in order to help facilitate peace talks
  • Mr Hollande called for an international force to be sent to the West African state of Mali to help dislodge Islamist militants who have taken over the country's north
  • Mr Ban warned the door for negotiating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - "the only sustainable option" - may be closing "for good" due to continued Israeli settlement construction in the Palestinian Territories
  • Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for an international treaty to "prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs"
  • Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez said Argentina's and Iran's foreign ministers will meet on the fringes of the summit to discuss bomb attacks on Buenos Aires in the 1990s
  • Mr Ban hosted a lunch for the more than 120 world leaders, but Mr Obama did not attend, leaving it to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer the host country's traditional toast
No red lines

Although the White House said Mr Obama's address was not a campaign speech, it follows critical remarks about his foreign policy from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi at Al Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan (18 Sept 2012) UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has just visited Damascus and refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey

His presidential rival condemned Mr Obama's description of the murder of Mr Stevens and three other Americans as "bumps in the road".

He has also castigated him for not taking time out to hold talks on Iran during the summit with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Obama has rejected the Israeli leader's calls for Washington to set Tehran "red lines".

Instead, he said the United States would "do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" with the backing of "a coalition of countries" holding Tehran accountable.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.

 

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Anti-Islam film protests

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 20.

    18. So the responsibility to nurture peace once again just happens to be on the side with the inferior weaponry.

    Global politics, ladies and gentlemen. 'Twas ever thus.

    Atomic-era politics: if we think you're developing the bomb, we will throw threats and accusations at you; if we know you've already *got* the bomb, you're our bestest fwend and we'll bend over backwards to defend you.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 19.

    Bush and Blair have questions to answer to. Their conquest for oil is a factor that cant go unnoticed. Get them to the Hague

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 18.

    Ahmadinejad is a clever and manipulative man. He will say all the things his supporters like and will play the 'victim of aggression' card to the full. This site will be full of anti american and anti israel rhetoric which achieves nothing and never will. The solution to the problems in the ME are in the hands of the arab peoples themselves. Drop the guns and the bombs and start talking peace.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 17.

    10. "Why doesn`t the UN stay out of the middle east and especially Syria, we roundly condemn terrorists, so why are we giving tacit support to the terrorists trying to overthrow Syria?"

    Cuz if we don't we risk admitting that the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters is arbitrary at best. It's not a debate that the West wants to have, because we don't come out of it looking so hot.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 16.

    The group should agree to pressure their respective media to produce counter-propaganda describing the current violent jihad-celebrations seen in ghettos as unrelated to civilised activity on this planet. If your foe was a Pansy in dementia, pro-bono Propaganda would be intelligently used, wouldn't it?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 15.

    On Saturday (Sept. 22) the U.S. Senate voted 90 to 1 to pass a non-binding resolution that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    another pointless war fought on behalf of a certain foreign country

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/333417#ixzz27Ssii9ka

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 14.

    did we forget the UN is currently paralyzed by the usa/britain vs france vs russia/china veto tug of war? the general assembly has zero authority, only the security council runs the UN.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 13.

    7.
    Pleb
    39 Minutes ago

    Let's be thankful Mitt Romney isn't president. If he were, he would have bombed Iran by now, and destablised the whole region, and caused massive oil price hikes.

    ------------------------------------

    Amen to that.He is a loose cannon and poses a greater danger to global stability than any terrorist.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 12.

    3. "Im disappointed in Obama’s apologist reaction to the Muslim world and I would like to see a more hard-line defence of freedom of speech."

    Personally, I would hope that he distances us as much from that odious little trolling exercise as possible.

    Do you really want him promoting the idea of free speech as the right to make spiteful films that you trick people into appearing in?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Why doesn`t the UN stay out of the middle east and especially Syria, we roundly condemn terrorists, so why are we giving tacit support to the terrorists trying to overthrow Syria? The middle east is largely made up of religious dictatorships and populations who will riot at the drop of a hat if it has made in the west on it, let us just leave them to get on with it,

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    He says Iran would not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. . . . . How can he stop them?
    The middle east are becoming more and more 'fired up' and agressive every day and I think instead of talking about it, we should prepare ourselves for their next phase of hatred

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 8.

    4. "Can you tell exactly which lies do you mean?
    "That Israel is a cancer that must be eradicated."

    That would be a start, yes.

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 7.

    Let's be thankful Mitt Romney isn't president. If he were, he would have bombed Iran by now, and destablised the whole region, and caused massive oil price hikes.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 6.

    UN General Assembly = international Puppet Show

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    US president may dress like Roman Emperor Caesar and dictate terms for the rest of the world that is Asia Africa South America.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    "Let's hope the BBC show us the real Ahmadinejad instead of the one we are lied to about."
    Can you tell exactly which lies do you mean?
    That Israel is a cancer that must be eradicated.
    Or perhaps that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
    Or that he won his election fairly.
    Or that he does not fund the Hezbollah, who in turn are terrorists.
    Or that he aids, arms and actively assists Assad
    Which lie ?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 3.

    Because "Innocence of Muslims" has been major news for the last week I am eager to see if any challenges to freedom of speech are brought up by Islamic member states. Im disappointed in Obama’s apologist reaction to the Muslim world and I would like to see a more hard-line defence of freedom of speech. Especially when I’m hearing rumours of potential laws against “blasphemy” in discussion

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 2.

    good

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1.

    Lets hope we get to hear what Ahmadinejad really has to say. Normally the British, American and Israeli walk out and that gets more news......propaganda.
    Watched his interview with Piers Morgan.
    Morgan came second !
    Let's hope the BBC show us the real Ahmadinejad instead of the one we are lied to about.

 

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