U.S. President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday there can be “no shortcut” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mr. Obama said he is frustrated by delays in the peace process, but continues to stand by the U.S. position that the conflict must be solved through negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, and not at the United Nations. Palestinian leaders have said they will ask for admission to the U.N. as an independent state.
Mr. Obama spoke about the “unprecedented mandate” to intervene in Libya as an example of what international cooperation can achieve, and discussed the U.S. response to a year of “seismic” democratic change in the Arab world.
He said in the aftermath of the so-called “Arab Spring,” U.N. members “have more work today do” to help nations rebuild.
He called for sanctions on the Syrian regime, saying the Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice.
As the debate over the Palestinian statehood bid heats up, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders to push for advances in the stalling Mideast peace process and to support nations transitioning to democracy in the Arab world.
During his opening remarks at the General Assembly Wednesday, Mr. Ban pledged “unrelenting” efforts to move the peace process. He also called on leaders from the 193 member states to act now on climate change and to prevent conflict from erupting around the world.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was the first leader to take the podium on Wednesday, becoming the first woman in U.N. history to open the general debate portion of the assembly.
Rousseff the world is going through a difficult time and all members of the international community must cooperate to solve its problems. She also said she is confident that this will be the “century of women” and noted that in her native Portuguese language, the words “courage” and “sincerity” are of the feminine gender.
More than 30 other world leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will address the assembly on Wednesday in what is commonly referred to as the general debate portion of the annual meeting.
The Palestinian effort to secure statehood recognition by the U.N. Security Council has become the central focus of the week-long meeting. The United States and its key diplomatic partners are involved in intense diplomacy to block the Palestinian government’s bid. President Mahmoud Abbas will submit the application for full U.N. membership to the Security Council on Friday.
President Obama was to meet Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will meet with Mr. Abbas later in the day.