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 a New York-based reporter for Talk Radio News Service, anchoring world news coverage from the United Nations. Luke previously covered Campaign 2008 and 2012 for radio and television. Follow Luke on Twitter @TheCourier

Click here for: Friday, November 28

● Iconic toy queen’s reign is frozen

● U.S. war casualties since 2001

● Adult smoking at an all-time low

● EPA proposes stronger air pollution rule

● Monitoring heart blood flow made easier

● Disability agency fined for disability violation

Listen: The Holiday Weekend Ahead – November 27-December 1

The Day Ahead Logo

OPEC members talk oil in Vienna, Nicolas Sarkozy attempts to reenter French politics and Swiss voters decide whether to embrace a limited ‘gold standard’

Obama: Turkey Pardon 2014 “Fully Within My Legal Authority”

“I know some will call this amnesty, but don’t worry,” President Obama said. “There’s plenty of Turkey to go around.”

Justice Ginsburg Undergoes Heart Surgery

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Justice's Conference Room prior to Justice Elana Kagan's Investiture Ceremony. Photo/Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

“As long as I can do the job full steam…I think I’ll recognize when the time comes that I can’t any longer,” Justice Ginsburg told Elle magazine in September, “But now I can.”

EPA Proposes Plan To Restrict Smog-causing Ozone

“Today’s proposal is about informing Americans about healthy air quality so they can protect themselves as well as their families,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

400,000 Sign Up In First Week Of Obamacare

This year the numbers from the first week were trumpeted over Burwell’s Twitter account in a series of tweets, including how many people had used the call centers set up to help people enroll.