Speaking at the United Nations, President Barack Obama said he is willing to work with Russia and Iran to end the war in Syria.
“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russian and Iran, to resolve the conflict, but we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.”
He said that compromise will be required. Mr. Obama called for “a managed transition” away from Mr. Assad, to a new leader.
While President Obama called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a tyrant,” Russia’s president praised him. President Vladimir Putin says Mr. Assad is the only legitimate government in Syria.
The Russian leader warned that it would be an “enormous mistake” not to cooperate with the Mr. Assad’s government in fighting ISIS. He called for a “broad coalition” to fight the Islamic State. Mr. Putin said it would be much like the “anti-Hitler” alliance that defeated Germany and Nazism in World War II.
Russia recently began a military build-up in Syria, supporting Mr. Assad with military equipment.
Mr. Obama also says the U.S. will continue to go after ISIS, also known as ISIL. He adds:
“I have said before and I will repeat: There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apology for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them. We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.”
By going after al Qaeda for more than 10 years, Mr. Obama says the U.S. shows it “will not be outlasted by extremists.”
Presidents Obama and Putin gave their speeches at the United Nations, before they were to sit down face to face.
When speaking to the General Assembly, Mr. Obama praised the recent nuclear deal made with Iran. He said the economic sanctions worked against Iran.
“The Iranian people have a proud history, and are filled with extraordinary potential, but chanting death to America does not create jobs.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke at the U.N. after the U.S. president. He praised the nuclear agreement as a “brilliant example of ‘victory over war.’”
But he had strong words against the U.S. He said the roots of the today’s wars and terrorism is the fault of previous U.S. military actions in the Middle East.
“If we did not have the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, … today the terrorists would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes,” he charged.
President Rouhani says Iran is “prepared to assist in the eradication of terrorism and in paving the way for democracy.” He adds that Iran is prepared “to help bring about democracy in Syria and also Yemen.”
President Obama’s speech also touched other themes, including Ukraine. He criticized Russia for annexing, or taking over, Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. He also criticized Russia’s support of pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine. He says Western economic sanctions are needed against Russia.
“But we cannot standby when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.”
Presidents Obama, Putin and Rouhani were some of the 200 world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York City. The U.N. is holding talks to find solutions to some of the world’s most troubling problems. The agenda includes setting new global goals to combat poverty, inequality and climate change.
I’m Anne Ball.
Anne Ball wrote this story. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
status quo –n; the way things are now
carnage –n; the killing of many people
compromise – n; settlement of an argument where each side agrees to accept less than first demanded
transition –n; change from one condition to another
legitimate –adj; allowed according to the rules
enormous – adj; very large
broad coalition – n; group of people from different opinions working together for a common purpose
apocalyptic cult - n; a group working to destroy the world
determination -n; a quality to makes a person continue to trying doing something difficult
sanction (s) –n; an order given to force a country to obey international law by limiting or stopping trade
justification –n; an acceptable reason to do something
criticize(d) – v; to express disapproval about something
annex (ing) –v; to take control of a territory or place
flagrantly - adv; too bad to ignore