President Barack Obama delivered remarks before the United Nations General Assembly this week, discussing Middle East peace talks during speech on Wednesday night, and delivering a longer address to the assembly on Thursday morning.
Thursday began with a speech from U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, who outlined the body's "ambitious agenda: "eradicating poverty, eliminating nuclear weapons, and creating a more sustainable world. Those are the great challenges of our era," he said. "They are not dreams. They are opportunities, within our power to grasp." Ki-moon ended his speech on a positive note, adding that "the world still looks to the United Nations for moral and political leadership."
During his speech, President Obama spoke about progress at home and abroad, mentioning efforts to boost the economy and reiterating commitments to withdrawing troops from Iraq responsibly. He also talked about stepped-up efforts to root out al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Peace in the Middle East and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were major topics. Notably absent, however, was progress negotiating with Iran about its nuclear program. The U.N. has already issued sanctions against the country for its program, but Obama said the door remains open to diplomacy. He said Iran "is the only party to the NPT that cannot demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program."
Obama also urged the U.N. to think about a different future for the Middle East. He expressed his support for extending an Israeli moratorium on building in the West Bank -- a major issue during talks this week -- that is set to expire this weekend.
The president ended his address by urging the U.N. to accept more accountability, and take more action toward meeting shared goals. "The world that America seeks is not one we can build on our own," the president said. "For human rights to reach those who suffer the boot of oppression, we need your voices to speak out."