tv Consider This Al Jazeera September 24, 2013 10:00am-11:01am EDT
♪ >> this is an al jazeera special, our coverage of the un general assembly coming to you live from new york. i'm del walters. ♪ you are looking live now at the scene at
the united nations, that is where more than 100 heads of state and various government leaders have descended upon the city of new york. among those addressing the assembly right now, president obama, this is though, the brazilian president who has been speaking. she will precede the president,
and our own john therett has been standing by. john she has not been kind to the u.s. >> that's absolutely right. welcome to the united nations on this day. president obama will sweep past us any moment now. but you are absolutely right, the brazilian president has been pulling
no punches when it comes to issues of freedom. by tradition here at the general assembly, the brazilian president always speaks before the united states president and after the secretary general. and she is saying there can be no freedom on the internet or in the world without respectful privacy and democracy. that's pretty hard-hitting stuff, and it's ironic with all of the issues on his plate,
president obama could be coming here in the next few minutes to the general assembly, and the most awkward minutes for him will be when he meets the brazilian president, because she said so harshly about the nsa spying in brazil, has been so critical that that could make him a little bit uncomfortable, and when you think of all of the issues that he has to deal with, this could be the most awkward couple of minutes when he comes here. we see the helicopters overhead. we'll see his motorcade in moments. i always think it's interesting and worth noting that the u.s. always arrives very, very close to the point at which he actually speaks. he doesn't come here and spend very long. he overnighted in new york last night. he'll likely to leave new york tonight.
he'll do the business he has to do today. there is president obama, we have just seen michelle obama go by. the president of the united states is now arriving. and he will literally go from his vehicle to the platform and he will only sit for about three minutes before he was formally introduced by the chairman of the meeting, dell. that's the latest news, at 10:03, president obama arriving here at the general assembly. >> we're expecting the president to address the assembly at 10:10. all eyes will be on president obama and also on the iranian president hassan rouhani. >> there has been no higher diplomatic meeting between the u.s. administration and the ironian administration in 34
years. the last time we even came close was in 1998 when madeline albright had a meeting with a accepty foreign minister. so when john kerry meets with the foreign minister to discuss iran's you rain an enrichment program. but it is an exciting thought of president obama meeting and shake hands with the new iranian president. i think what will happen, if it happens at all is they will bump into each other in the corridor, and there will be a handshake. there may or may not be a camera there. actually thinking about it would be hard to believe there won't be a camera there.
but that will be very, very interesting after all that has been said by both countries about both countries over the years. but the more important event is john kerry meeting with the foreign minister. >> reporter: that was samantha power that you saw walking through the corridors just a second ago. joining us is professor michael oppenheimer. are we making too much of this handshake between president obama and president rouhani. >> probably. >> but that's what we do? >> that's what you do. it's theater, but it's important theater. the prospect of these two presidents shaking hands and having a conversation for the first time in -- in -- in 30 years or so, is a very good
indication that both countries are ready to talk seriously about the iranian nuclear program. >> but this is an icy relationship that does date back to 1979. so the fact that it is just a handshake, it is really much much more when you think about the fact that two leaders have not engaged in dialogue for almost three decades and yet they are pivotal to that part of the world? >> that's right. this is a critical moment. when this ice may finally break, and we have a very large agenda with the iranians, and a government just elected to office by popular vote, which is making moderate noises about having a serious conversation about these issues. obviously yet to be tested is whether there's real flexibility
on concrete issues, but you -- you have to start this -- you know, with a little bit of atmospherics, a little bit of theater before you proceed to the serious conversations which i think will probably take place. >> professor, thank you. we are going to ask you to stand by as well. we continue to watch the developments occurring right now at the united nations. we have reporters stationed in turkey, theron, and of course washington, d.c. we're going to take a short break and come right back.
68th such gathering. we are awaiting the comments from president obama expected to address the general assembly now that the president of brazil has just wrapped up her comments. we want to go live to libby casey in washington. libby they are watching close tli as well. >> that's right. and we are waiting to hear what president obama says. we expect him to talk about the middle east and north africa with a focus on syria specifically. such a hot issue, not just here in the u.s., but also in the international eyes. we'll be watching that as well as many other issues including iran. >> libby we're going to interrupt you briefly because as we mentioned the president is going to be addressing the general assembly at exactly 10:10 eastern time. professor we're going to put you on hold as well. here is the president of the united states. >> mr. secretary general, fellow
delegates, ladies and gentlemen, each year we come together to reaffirm the founding vision of this institution. for most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires, divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies. the idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity seemed unimaginable. it took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking. the leaders who built the united nations were not naive. they did not think this body could eradicate all wars, but in
the wake of millions dead and continents in rubble, and with the development of nuclear weapons that would annihilate a planet, they understand that humanity could not survive the course it was on, and so they gave us this institution, believing it could allow us to resolve conflicts and force rules of behavior, and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time. for decades the united nations has in fact made a difference from helping to eradicate disease to educating children to brokering peace, but like every generation of leaders, we face new and profound challenges, and this body continues to be tested. the question is whether we possess the wisdom and the courage as nation states and members of an international community to squarely meet those
challenges. whether the united nations can meet the tests of our time. and for much of my tenure of president such of our most urgent challenges have evolved around an global economy, and efforts to recover from the worse economic crisis of our lifetime. now five years after the global economy collapsed and thanks to coordinated efforts by the countries here today, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stalelized and people are being lifted out of poverty. but this process is fragile and equal, and we still need to work together to ensure that our citizens have access to the opportunities they need to thrive in the 21st century. together we have also worked to end a decade of war.
five years ago, nearly 180,000 americans were serving in harm's way, and the war in iraq was the dominant issue in our relationship with the rest of the world. today all of our troops have left iraq. next year an international coalition will end its war in afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dising manteling the core of al qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. these circumstances have always meant shifting away from a per pet wall war footing. beyond bringing our troops home, we have limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose an imminent threat to the united states, where capture is not feasible, and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties. we're trying terrorists in courts of law while working diligently to close the prison and guantanamo bay, and just as
we reviewed how we deploy our military capabilities, we have begun to review the way we gather intelligence, so we properly balance the concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns all people share. as a result of this work, and cooperation with allies and partners, the world is more stable than it was five years ago. but even a glance at today's headlines indicates that dangers remain. in kenya, we have seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been effected. in pakistan, nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside of a church. in iraq killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part
of life. meanwhile al qaeda has splintered into regional networks and militias, which doesn't give them the capacity at this point to carry out attacks like 9/11, but does pose serious threats to governments, diplomats, businesses and civilians all across the globe. just as significantly, the convulsions in the middle east and north africa have laid bare deep divisions within societies as an old order is up ended and people grapple with what comes next? peaceful movements have too often been met with violence from those existing change and from extremist trying to hijack change. sectarian conflict has reemerged. and the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction
continues to cast a shadow over the pursuit of peace. nowhere have we seen these trends converge more powerfully than in syria. their peaceful protests against an regime were met with repression and slaughter. in the face of such carnage many retreated to their sectarian identities, aloites, and sueny, christians and kurds, and the situation spiraled into civil war. the international community recognized the stakes early on, but our response has not met the scale of the challenge. aid cannot keep pace with the suffering. a peace process is stillborn. america and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition, but extremist groups have still taken root to exploit the crisis.
assad's traditional allies have propped him up, citing principals of sovereignty. and on august 21st, the regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children. now the crisis in syria, and the destabilization of the region goes to the heart of broader challenges that the international community must now confront. how should we respond to conflicts in the middle east and north africa? conflicts between countries, but also conflicts within them? how do we address the choice of standing callously buy while children are subjected to nerve gas or embroiling ourselves in season else's civil war. what is the role of force in
resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct? and what is the role of the united nations and international law in meeting cries for justice? today i want to outline where the united states of america stands on these issues. with respect to syria, we believe that as a starting point the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons. when i stated my willingness to order a limited strike against the assad regime in response to the brazen use of chemical weapons, i did not do so lightly. i did so because i believe it is in the national security interests of the united states and in the interests of the world to meaningfully enforce a prohibition who's origins are
older than the united nations itself. the ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98% of humanity. it is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocating in the trenches. jews slaughtered in gas chambers. iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands. the evidence is overwhelming that the assad regime used such weapons on august 21st. un inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. these rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood, and landed in opposition neighborhoods. it's an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this
institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack. now i know in the immediate aftermath of the attack, there were those that questioned the legitimacy of even a limited strike in the absence of a clear mandate from the security council. but without a credible military threat, the security council has demonstrated no inclination to act at all. however, as i have discussed with president putin for over a year, most recently in st. petersburg, by preference has always been a diplomatic resolution to this issue. and in the past several weeks, the united states, russia, and our allies have reached an agreement to place syria's chemical weapons under international control and then to destroy them. the syrian government took a first step by giving an
accounting of its stockpiles. now there must be a strong security council resolution to a verify that the assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so. if we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the united nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws. on the other hand, if we success, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says. an agreement on chemical weapons should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within syria. i do not believe that military
action by those within syria or by external powers can achieve a lasting peace. nor do i believe that america or any nation should determine who will lead syria. that is for the syrian people to decide. nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death, cannot gain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country. the notion that syria can return to a prestatus quo is a fantasy. it's time for russia and iraq to realize that assisting on assad's rule will lead directly to the outcome they fear. in turn, those of us who continue to support the moderate opposition must persuade them that the syrian people cannot
afford a collapse of state institutions, and that a political settlement cannot be reached without addressing the legitimate fears and concerns of aloites and other minorities. we are committed to working this political trek, and as we pursue a settlement, let's remember this is not a zero-sum endeavor. we're no longer in a cold war. there's no great game to be won. nor does america have any interest in syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of its chemical weapons and ensuring it does not become a safe haven forterrorists. i welcome the influence of all nation that can help bring about a peaceful resolution of syria's civil war. as we move the geneva process
for word, i urge all nations here to step up. america has committed over a billion dollars to this effort. and today i can announce we will be providing an additional $340 million. no aid can take the place of a political resolution that gives the syrian people a chance to rebuild their country, but it can help desperate people to survive. what broader conclusions can be drawn from america's policy towards syria? i know there are those who have been frustrated by our willingness to use our military might to depose assad, and believe a failure to do so indicates a weakening of american resolve in the region. others have suggested that my willingness to direct even limited military strikes shows we have learned nothing from
iraq, and america continues to seek control over the middle east for our own purposes. in this way the situation in syria mirrors the contradiction that has persisted in the region for decades. the united states is chastised for medaling in the region, at the same time the united states is blamed for not doing enough to solve the problems and showing indifference towards muslim populations. i realize some of this is inevitable, but these contra dickried a ought to have an impact on the american's view of the region. so let me take this opportunity to outline what has been u.s. policy towards the middle east and north africa, and what will
be my policy during the remainder of my presidency. the united states of america is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force to secure our core interests in the region. we will confront external aggression against our allice and partners, as we did in the gulf war. we will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. although america is steadily reducing our own dependence on forge oil, the world still depends on the energy supply. we will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people. wherever possible we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations and work to address the root causes of terror, but when it is necessary to defend the
united states against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action. and finally we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction. just as we consider the use of chemical weapons a threat to our own country, we do not support the develop of nuclear weapons. now to say that these are america's core interests is not to say that they are our only interests. we deeply believe it is in our interests to see a middle east and north africa that is peaceful and prosperous. and we'll continue to promote democracy, and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity, but i also believe we can rarely achieve these
objectives through unilateral american action, particularly through military action. iraq shows us that democracy cannot simply be imposed by force. rather these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region. so what does this mean going forward? in the near term, america's diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues, iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the arab/israeli conflict. while these issues are not the cause of all of the region's problems. they have been a major source of instability for far too long. and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a
broader peace. the united states and iran have been isolated from one another since though islamic revolution of 1979. this mistrust has deep roots. iranians have long complained of a history of u.s. interference in their affairs, and of america's role of overthrowing an ironian government during the cold war. on the other hand americans see an iranian government that has declared the united states an enemy, and taken u.s. hostages, killed civilians, and threatened our ally, israel with destruction. i don't believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight. the suspicions run too deep, but i do believe if we can resolve the issue of iran's nuclear program that can serve as a
major step down a long road towards a different relationship. one based on mutual interests, and mutual respect. since i took office, i have made it clear in letters to the supreme leader in iran and more recently to president rouhani, that america prefers to resolve our concerns over iran's nuclear program peacefully, although we are determined to prevent iran from developing a nuclear whe -- weapon. we are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the iranian people to access nuclear energy. instead we insist that the iranian government meet its responsibilities under the nuclear proliferation treaty. meanwhile the supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the
develop of nuclear weapons, and president rouhani has recently reiterated that they will never develop a nuclear weapon. these statements 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. but to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. after all it's the iranian government's choices that have lead to the sanctions currently in place. and this is not just an issue between the united states and iran. the world has seen iran evade its responsibilities in the past, and has an interest in
making sure that iran meets its obligations in the future. but i want to be clear, we are encouraged that president rouhani received from the people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course. and i am directing john kerry to pursue this effort with the iranian government in close cooperation with the european union, united kingdom, france, germany. i firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested, for while the status quo will even deepen iran's isolation, iran's genuine commitment to go down a different path will help the iranian people meet their extraordinary potential in
commerce, and science, and education. we are all thes determined to resolve a conflict that goes back even further than our differences with iran. and that is the conflict between palestinians and israelis. i have made it clear that the united states will never compromise our commitment to israel's security. nor our support for its existence as a jewish state. earlier this year , i was inspired by young israelis who stood up for the idea that peace is possible. and the occupation of the west bank is tearing the democratic fabric of the state. but the children have a right to live in a world where their country is fully rejected. and where we unequivocally
reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them. likewise the united states remained commits to the fact that the palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state. on the same trip i had an opportunity to meet with young palestinians who's ambition is matched by the pain they feel in having no firm place in the community of nations. they are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and they are frustrating by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation. but they two recognize that two states is the only real path to peace. because just as the palestinian people must not be displaced,
the state of israel is here to state. so the time is right for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace. israeli and palestinian leaders have showed a willingness to find a path to peace. current talks are focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees in jerusalem. so the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well. friends of israel, including the united states, must recognize that israel's security depends on the realization of a palestinian state, and we should say so clearly.
arab states and those who supported the palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution, and a secure israel. all of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region, and uphold those who are prepared to build a better future. and more over ties of trade and commerce between israelis and arabs could be a chance for growth in the region at a time when too many young people in the region languish without work. so let's support the leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace. a real break threw on these two issues, iran's nuclear program, and israeli palestinian peace would have a profound and
positive impact on the entire middle east and north african. but the current call -- convulse arising out of the arab spring reminds it we must resolve conflict and promote peace within nations. and it's clear that all of us have a lot more work to do. when peaceful negotiation began in egypt, the entire world was filled with hope, and although the united states like others were struck by the speed of transition, and although we did not and could not dictate events, we chose to support those who called for change, and we did so based on the belief
that while these transitions will be hard and take time, society is based upon democracy and openness, and the dignity of the individual will be more stable, more prosperous, and more peaceful. over the last new years, particularly in egypt, we have seen just how hard this transition will be. mohammed morsi was democratically elected, but proved unwillingor unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive. the interim government that replaced him responded to the desires of millions of egyptians, but it too has made decisions inconsistent with an emerging democracy. of course america has been
attacked by all sides, simultaneously accused of supporting the muslim brotherhood and engineering the removal of power. our overriding interests out there these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the egyptian people and recognizing that a true democracy respects civil rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society. that remains our interest today. and so going forward the united states will maintain a constructive relationship, we'll continue support in areas like education that directly benefit the egyptian people, but we have not proceeded with the delivery of certain military systems, and
our support be depend on egypt's progress in pursuing a more democratic path. the united states will at times work with governments that do not meet at least in our view the highest international expectations, but who will 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, or supporting the principles embodied in the universal bill of human rights. we will reject the notions that these are simply western exports. we believe they are the birthright of every person. and while we recognize that our influence will at times be limited, although we will be
wary of efforts to impose democracy through military force, we will be engaged in the region for the long haul, for the hard work of forging freedom and democracy is the task of a generation, and this includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like iraq, bahhah rain, and syria. but we have seen grinding conflicts come to an end before. most recently in ireland.
so we believe those same sectarian conflicts can be overcome in the middle east and north africa. to summarize, the united states has a hard earned humility when it comes our ability to determine events inside other countries. the notion of american empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't born out by america's current policy or by public opinion. indeed, as recent debates within the united states over syria clearly showed, the danger for the world is not an america that is too eager to immerse itself in the affairs of other countries or take on every problem in the region as its own. the danger for the world is that the united states after a decade of war, rightly concerned about
issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the muslim world may disgauge creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill. i believe such disengagement would be a mistake. i believe america must remain engaged for our own security, but i also believe the world is better for it. some may disagree, but i believe america is exceptional, in part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self interests, but for the interests of all. i must be honest, though, we are far more likely to invest our energy in those countries that want to work with us, than
invest in their people instead of a corrupt few, and embrace a society where everyone can contribute, men and women, muslim, christian, shiite or jew. from europe to area, nations that have emerged on a democratic path have emerged more peaceful, and more successful, and i believe the same will hold true for the arab world. and this leads me to a final point. there will be times when the breakdown of societies is so great, the violence against civilians so substantial, that the international community will be called upon to act. this will require new thinking and some very tough choices. while the united nations was
designed to prevent wars between states, increasingly we face the challenge of preventing slaughter within states, and these challenges will grow more pronounced as we are confronted with places that are failing. places that put men and women and innocent children at risk with no hope of help from their national institutions. i have made it clear, even when america's core interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part to prevent mass atrocities, and protect basic human rights, but we could not and should not bare that burden alone. in molly we supported both the french intervention that successfully pushed back al qaeda, and the african forces who are keeping the peace.
in eastern africa we are working with partners to bring the lord's resistance army to an end. and in libya when the security council provided a mandate to protect civilians, america took action, and because of what we did there, countless lives were saved and a tyrant could not fight his way back to power. i know some criticize libya as a problem, a democratically elected government, struggling to provide security, armed groups in some places, extremists, ruling parts of a fractured land. so these critics argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail. look at libya. and no one is more mindful than i am, for it resulted in the
death of four u.s. citizens who were committed to the libbian people, including ambassador stevens. but does anyone truly believe that the situation in libya would be better if go -- ga dofy had been allowed to kill its people. we live in a world of imperfect choices. different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principal of sovereignty is at the center of our international order, but sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit one murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye. while we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy
every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of uninning tenned consequences, should we really believe that the world is powerful in the face of a rwanda? if that's the logic people want to live with, they should say so, but i believe we can embrace a different future, and if we don't want to choose between inaction and war, we must get better all of us, that the policies that prevent the breakdown of order, for the rights of individuals through meaningful sanctions for those who break the rules, for dogged dip -- diplomatsy, and yes
sometimes, although this will not be enough, there will be moments when the international community will need to acknowledge the multi-lateral use of military force may be required to prevent the very worst from occurring. ultimately this is the international community that america seeks. one where nations do not covet the land or resources of other nations, but one in which we carry out the founding purpose of this institution, and where we all take responsibility. a world in which the rules established out of the horrors of war can help us resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the kind of wars that our forefathers fought. a world where human beings can live with dignity no matter where they live.
these are extraordinary times, with extraordinary opportunities. thanks to human progress, a child born anywhere on earth today can do things that 60 years ago would have been out of reach for the mass of humanity. i saw this in africa where nations moving beyond conflict are now poised to take off, and america is with them, helping to feed the hungry, and cure the sick and bring power to place off of the grid. i see it across the pacific region where hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty in a single generation. i see it in the faces of young people everywhere, who can access the entire world with the click of a button. who are starting businesses, expanding freedom, and leaving behind the old idealogical
battles of the past. that's what is happening in asia and africa. it's happening in europe, and across the americas. that's the future that the people of the middle east and north africa deserve as well. one where they can focus on opportunity instead of whether they will be killed or repressed because of who they are or what they believe. time and again, nations and people have shown our capacity to change, to live up to humanity's highest ideals, to choose our better history. last month i stood where 50 years ago, martin luther king, jr. told america about his dream at a time when many people of my race could not even vote for president. earlier this year i stood in the small cell where nelson mandela endured decades cut off from his
own people and the world. who are we to believe that today's challenges cannot be overcome when we have seen what changes the human spirit can bring? who in this hall could argue that the future belongs to those who seek to repress that spirit, rather than those who seek to liberate it. i know what side of history i want the united states of america to be on. we're ready to meet tomorrow's challenges with you, firm in the belief that all men and women are created equal, each individual possessed with a dignity, that's why we look to the future, not with fear, but with hope, and that's why we remain convinced that this community of nations can deliver a more peaceful, prosperous and just world to the united nations.
[ applause ] >> the president of the united states addressing the 68th gathering of the general assembly in new york, saying that we live in a world of imperfect choices talking about many of the problems facing the world. john terrett is at the united nations. john the speech lasted about 43 minutes. he spent most of the time talking about the situation in the middle east. >> reporter: didn't he just dell. i didn't think that was as wide of range of speech i have heard from previous presidents or indeed this president. but you are absolutely right. it lasted for 43 minutes. almost 45 minutes. you are allowed 15, by the way. that so goes to show you why it is impossible to predict when these heads of state will come on. let me take you through some of the key points.
he touched on terrorism and what happened in kenya. he also touched on recent incidents in pakistan and iraq. but he swiftly moved on to syria, and confirmed that the syrian regime used chemical weapons on august 21st, and said that syria, and the deepest stabilization in the region that syria is causing, is exactly what the united nations is there to sort out. this goes to the heart of what the united nations is. he said he called on the international community to enforce the ban of chemical weapons in the world, and he also said he did not use the threat of force lightly. it was not something he did glibly. he referred to the first world war, to the jews being gassed in the holocaust, and the kurds
being gassed by saddam hussein. and then he went on to say his preference was to use a diplomatic resolution whenever possible, but there was a need for a strong un resolution to make sure that syria eliminates his chemical weapons with consequences. he called for iran and russia to get involved as well. he appointed another $340 million to help in aid for syria, and then went on to thement l -- the middle east and north africa, so use all elements including force to secure u.s. interest, to consult with allies and ensure the free flow of energy, and not to
tolerate the use of weapons of mass destruction. on the palestinians and israelis, he talked about the need for -- for the -- on -- on iran he spoke about action being louder than words. dell back to you. >> john thank you very much. we turn now to our correspondent in theron. how was the speech received? >> that's a very, very good question. it's evening here and all eyes would be on obama's comments. they were very conciliatory from an iranian point of view compared to comments in the past by former u.s. presidents and even from the iranian side. obama's remarks were very firm.
but he did reiterate a very important point he said there is a religious edit from the superpeople leader on the nuclear weapon program. he spoke about lighting to the supreme leader, and speaking to rouhani as well. and keeping its line to stop any nuclear weapons here. >> thank you very much. now we go to tuck i can. we have about 30 seconds, i'll come back to you at the top of the hour, but i want to get your comments on the situation that effects turkey very much. >> reporter: three very key points in the president's speech. even though he said the situation cannot be resolved there militarily, and a
political process was needed he had very strong words about the faith of assad. how that will be received by russia, iran, and certainly by the syrian regime is something to keep a very close eye going forward as all of these powers gather in new york. thank you very much. again, we are following the special developments that are taking place out of the yielted nations where u.s. president barack obama has just finished addressing the delegates there. it is the 68th meeting of that gathering. we have reporters stationed in washington, theron, and turkey. our special coverage continues right after this short break. ♪ ç]
welcome back to al jazeera, i'll del walters live in new york. here are today's top stories. >> the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons. >> it is day one of the general assembly, and president obama urging to enforce the elimination of chemical war fair. and the latest on the violent standoff in kenya at the westgate mall. it is not over yet. ♪