Obama: Iran Nuclear Talks & Israeli-Palestinian Peace Top US Concerns

Encouraged by the Iranian people's call for moderate leadership, Obama said he "firmly [believes] the diplomatic path must be tested."

President Obama addresses the 2013 United Nations General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and nuclear negotiations with Iran are America’s top foreign policy priorities.

“Real breakthroughs on these two issues,” Obama said, “would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa.”

An Opening With Iran

For the first time since the 1970’s, American and Iranian leaders will meet face-to-face, in the form of an encounter between Obama and newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

“The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979,” Obama said. “This mistrust has deep roots.”

“I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight,” Obama said, “but I do believe that 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.”

Obama said that he had repeatedly expressed to Iran his willingness to engage in open dialogue, and that despite the risk that such talks could end in failure, the “status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation.”

“The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” Obama said.

Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Citing his impression that, “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks,” President Obama said, “the time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace.”

As with his remarks on Iran, Obama reiterated America’s support for Israel, but acknowledged the overriding concerns of Palestinians.

Obama said Palestinians are “understandably cynical” about the prospects of successful peace talks and “frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation.”

“I believe there is a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state,” he said.

Although Obama conceded America had developed a “hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries,” now is not the time for the U.S. to retreat from achieving its overriding policy aims in the Middle East:

“The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war; rightly concerned about issues back home; and aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim World, may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill.”

I believe that would be a mistake. I believe America must remain engaged for our own security. I believe the world is better for it.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly later this afternoon, while the State of Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are slated for appearances on Thursday morning and next Tuesday, respectively.

TRNS UN Bureau

Tags: , , , ,

Luke Vargas
Luke Vargas is the United Nations bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service, leading international coverage from 15 countries since 2013. Luke previously covered U.S. elections in 2008 and 2012 for radio and television. Twitter: @TheCourier

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The World in 2:00 – November 25, 2015

The World in 2:00

The U.N. warns that political crisis in Burundi is dragging the country toward civil war.

DHS Releases Video On Refugee Vetting Process

Refugees wait for food deliveries at Syria's Yarmouk camp. February 26,2014. UN Photo/UNRWA.

“We can continue to ensure our own security, while doing our share to welcome refugees fleeing violence,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said.

Wednesday, November 25

● USPIRG releases 30th annual toy safety report

● 86,000 Syrian immigrants live in the U.S.

● Atheist “nativity” celebrates Bill of Rights

● Doctors endorse wider use of generic drugs

● Post office starts “Letters FROM Santa”

● Girls’ toy list: Barbie soars as Frozen fades

Pentagon: Russian Jet Was Flying Over Anti-Assad Rebel Area

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that U.S. forces heard the Turks give ten warnings to the two Russian pilots to leave the airspace.

Tunisia Declares State Of Emergency After Bus Blast Kills Presidential Guards

Tunisian President has declared a month-long state of emergency after the bus explosion carrying presidential guards killed 12 and injuring at least 17. Sources say the attack may have been linked the Islamic State group (ISIS).

US-Led Coalition Against IS to ‘Continue as Planned’ After Turkish Border Dispute With Russia

A spokesman for the US-led military campaign against IS confirmed Turkish claims that the downed Russian warplane was given ten warnings over a period of five minutes.