Obama to UN: World must reject intolerance

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President Barack Obama said the world faces a choice between tolerance and extremism, in a speech to the United Nations Tuesday that vowed the United States will not retreat from the world despite the recent killing of US diplomats in Libya amid protests at US embassies in the Muslim world sparked by an anti-Islam video trailer posted to YouTube.

“We face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common,”  Obama told world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly 67th Opening Session Tuesday. “Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.”

“Understand, America will never retreat from the world,” Obama vowed. “We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies.”

On Iran’s nuclear program, Obama restated that he wants to solve the issue through diplomacy, but recommitted the United States to do “what’s needed” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so,” Obama said. “But that time is not unlimited.”

More highlights:

On Israel-Palestine

Together, we must work towards a work where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That’s the vision we will support. Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, those who reject the right of Israel to exist.

The road is hard, but the destination is clear: a secure Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine. […]

On overcoming sectarian violence:

Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shia pilgrims. It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

 

Together, we must work towards a work where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That’s the vision we will support.

On Syria:

Together, we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision, a Syria that is united and inclusive, where children don’t need to fear their own government and all Syrians have a say in how they’re governed — Sunnis and Alawites, Kurds and Christians. That’s what America stands for. […]

On Iran:

In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads. The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors. But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad.

Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful and to meet its obligations to the United Nations.

So let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited.

We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.

Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. ….

 

(Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 25, 2012.    REUTERS/Mike Segar.)