Obama: U.S. will remain engaged with the world

Sept. 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama told U.N. delegates Tuesday the United States will remain engaged with the world, acting against atrocities.

Obama spoke for about 40 minutes before the U.N. General Assembly.

"The United States has a hard-earned humility" when it comes to its ability to affect events in other countries, he said.

The danger for the world is not an overeager United States, the president said, but that the United States may "disengage ... creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is able to fill. ... I believe such a disengagement would be a mistake."

The United States must act with partners, but it will sometimes act in the face of atrocities, such as the use of sarin gas in Syria, even when it is not directly in the national interest of the United States, he said.

"We live in a world of imperfect choices ... but sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit mass murder," Obama said.

The United States is condemned if it acts and condemned if it does not act internationally, he said, with many saying the United States should do nothing.

"If that's the world the people want to live in," the president said, "they should say so, and live with the cold logic of mass graves."

Obama said U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East focused on two issues: Stopping Iranian development of a nuclear weapon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The president repeatedly stressed the need for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians.

"Just as the Palestinian people will not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay," he said.

Obama said the United States will remain engaged with Egypt, but military aid will depend on the pursuit of a democratic process in that country.

The president told the delegates that with the end of the Iraq war and the end of the Afghan war next year, the United States is "shifting away from a perpetual war footing."

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