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
    -2

    Comment number 80.

    Everyone should just take a deep breath and relax.
    Its a joke the US should be trying to police nukes. They are the only nation to have ever used a nuke against another nation.
    The Iranian president should have his fingers smacked for being rude and deliberately provocative. If the US were to take the leash off Israel, Iran would find out exactly how fake the Jewish military are.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 79.

    68. "The West doesn not like religion and politics mixed yet based on religious belief they created a whole country, made it into a rougue state with nukes, WMD and a state that does not abid by any UN resolution (its very creator), displaced a whole nation for over 60 years - all in the name on God's choosen land for his choosen people."

    ...America?

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 76.

    President of Iran accuses Israel of having a "fake Regime" Israels Ambassador walks out! By not staying,how are we supposed to view Ahmadinejads statement? And you expect us to go to War with You--Fight it yourself, and if its not going Your way; "Walk Out"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    you cannot rule a land with a book of warfare (OT, with the new one people got scared only thinking of walking on water) even not with the second infusion of counter-revolutionist Muhammad. In remark to another one: civilization lost its chance when capitalism draw up pictures of plates for each n every egonomist what no cosmos could fill. Nor fantasy either. Special guess the tall smoke goes on.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 74.

    1)Palestine is a name made up by the Romans ca70ce to eradicate the previous Jewish names and connection and is based on Philistines who were extinct,2)'Palestinians are named after the land not the other way around;Jews living there were also Palestinians until 1948,3)many claiming to be Palestinians are descended from people who immigrated to the Mandate when Jews brought prosperity there.

  • Comment number 73.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 72.

    #67 & 61.
    The ancient state of Israel, like Sumeria, Babylon and Assyria disappeared in the mists of time.
    When Jewish nationalists decided to resurrect Israel in their quest for national self-determination, they produced the slogan 'A Land without a People for a People without a Land' and to for it to work they had to deny the legitimacy of the indigenous inhabitants as all colonialists did.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 71.

    Those on the Islamic side see this talking shop as one sided, ditto for the Christian side...Those on the atheists sides see it as an opportunity aka oil & resources availability....Ok, all we need now is a nuclear accident in the middle east....Well how else can we stop proliferation in a unstable state.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    This part of the world is a powder keg & all it wants is for someone like Romney to go looking for a solution in the pitch dark with a naked flame to start a war in the region which would end up creating a world crisis which would make the present financial one look like a minor headache.
    Ahmadinejad is a warmonger and should be indited for attempting to create instability in the middle east.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    The West doesn not like religion and politics mixed yet based on religious belief they created a whole country, made it into a rougue state with nukes, WMD and a state that does not abid by any UN resolution (its very creator), displaced a whole nation for over 60 years - all in the name on God's choosen land for his choosen people.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 67.

    61. Controlled Pair
    With respect, can you read?
    I stated that 'the LAND of Palestine' has been historically recorded for over 2500 years and I agree that there has never been a 'nation of Palestine'.
    But it's wrong saying that 'Palestine' has been made up for political reasons.
    If your family had lived in the 'land of Palestine' for the last 500 years, is not fair to call yourself a Palestinian?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 66.

    60.Gerry
    So its OK for the west to use occupy nations, kill millions directly (wars, CIA) or indirectly by supplying weapons to regimes such as Israel, Saudi, Bahrain etc. Use free speech to insite rebellion, brain wash is own population and twist facts. Use UN to dominate poorer countries. Its wrong to print a naked dutchess photos but OK to insult a historic religous figure.

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 64.

    A few thousand Muslim fanatics have tarnished the image of Islam in the world. With them, Jihad means elimination of all other world religions - they do not hesitate to kill even their Muslim brethren treating them as infidels. Allah in the holy Koran has proclaimed to the Muslims to live peacefully with the People of the Book - Christians and Jews. Religion should be a private affair.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 63.

    @49 There was never a nation of Palestine at any time in history. The anomaly is the land of Israel being invaded by Arab Muslims who have no claim on Jerusalem and who come from Arabia.

    As has happened across the world! Kosovo, Cyprus, Tibet, the UK. Where do you stop and how far back? The ME was made up of state boundaries that disregarded ethnic boundaries (Kurds)
    Hence the need for the UN

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 62.

    Is that not that region where the smartest shepherds collected so many goats instead of pigs and cows eg that deserts now are searching for a kosher bit of moon dust? dig up a drop of oil and all goes broom like clockwork orange.
    If kids in Syria are in a trauma what is man in then? rhetorically speaking to no-one. Children will find a way for better ideas, nae problemo. Until they grow up.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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