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Entries in United Nations (10)

Wednesday
Nov212012

UN Ambassador Susan Rice Defends Herself on Benghazi

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(UNITED NATIONS) -- At a press briefing at the United Nations Wednesday, Ambassador Susan Rice gave a spirited defense of her actions following the Benghazi consulate attack, telling reporters that her talking points in interviews on the Sunday political shows following the attack were based solely on the information the intelligence community provided to her.
 
“As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities—American diplomatic facilities—around the world and Iran’s nuclear program. The attack on Benghazi—on our facilities in Benghazi—was obviously a significant piece of this,” said Rice.
 
“When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers,” she said.  “Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.”
 
Rice said the on-going FBI investigation and the State Department’s internal investigation will become “the definitive accounting of what occurred.”
 
She talked about her personal feelings towards Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man she said she had the privilege of working closely with following the fall of Gadhafi.  

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss and that of his three colleagues is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government and for all the American people,” said Rice. “None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice.”
 
Her words for Senator John McCain were not so warm, calling his attacks against her “unwarranted.”
 
“Let me be very clear. I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have, and I always will,” said Rice. “I do think that some of the statements he’s made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.”
 
Rice’s comments came from questions following her prepared remarks about the Israel-Hamas cease-fire, where she said the United States welcomed the announcement.

“We are deeply grateful to those who showed such leadership and determination to bring it about,” she said. “In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate the progress made today, to improve conditions for the people of Gaza through the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, and to provide lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep252012

Mideast Unrest Tops Hillary Clinton's Agenda at Start of UN Meeting

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stacked her first full day of diplomacy at this year’s annual U.N. General Assembly meeting, also known as UNGA, by meeting with the leaders of some of the United States’ most challenging allies in a region marred by recent civil unrest.

Clinton had sit-down meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Libyan President Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, before ending the evening Monday holding talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The secretary and her delegation met with Morsi and his delegation for nearly an hour, according to senior State Department officials.  One official described the meeting as “very relaxed and warm,” and said that Morsi began the meeting by affirming Egypt’s commitment to protecting U.S. diplomatic missions, and told Clinton that the Egyptian government understands it has a duty to protect embassies and it’s a duty he takes seriously.

The official pointed out that since the initial violent protests on Sept. 11, Egypt has faced many more, but there have been no further incidents of damage to U.S. embassies and consulates -- a sign security forces are doing their jobs.

At a late Monday night briefing, the official also said that Clinton and Morsi discussed Egypt’s relationship with Israel under the new Muslim Brotherhood-led government.  The official said Morsi repeated previous statements affirming that Egypt has every intention of honoring the Camp David treaty with Israel and continues to work on keeping good communication lines open between the countries.

Both state department officials acknowledged that Egypt has a tough road ahead in shaping its new democracy but that Clinton assured Morsi that despite the call by some lawmakers for Egypt’s aid to be cut, she will continue to advocate for U.S. financial support.

“We understand that there may be members who have questions, but that there is strong bipartisan support for Egypt being a democratic success, because it’s in our national security interest that that occur,” one official said.

Egypt’s plan to include Iran in any negotiations regarding the end of bloodshed in Syria was met with heavy skepticism by Clinton and her delegation.  Calling it a small part in the conversation, an official would not dismiss Egypt’s initiative entirely, but said that the United States always has “concerns when Iran is engaged.”

Although the anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims, which sparked global protests across the Muslim world, was brought up briefly in the meeting, the official said, Morsi understood the film was not a reflection of the U.S. government and acknowledged that it should not be used an excuse for violence.

Secretary Clinton’s meeting with Pakistan President Zardari, however, began by discussing the video, despite the continued issues between the two countries, including the use of drones, the jailing of the doctor who helped with the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, and the declaration of the Haqqani network as a terror group.

“The meeting today with President Zardari started again on the recent violence caused by the video,” said another senior State Department official with authority to comment.  “We have had extremely good support from Pakistani security sources in protecting our posts and our personnel, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about the violence throughout the region.”

After they finished talking about the video, they turned to issues of counterterrorism, where Clinton and Zardari agreed to support a joint counterterrorism working group that will meet throughout the year.

Clinton’s most verbally and publicly pleasant greeting was reserved for Libyan President Magariaf, whom she thanked again for the outpouring of support the Libyan people have shown America after the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats earlier this month.

“The United States was proud to stand with you and the Libyan people as you fought for your country last year,” Clinton said.  “And we will continue to stand with you as you now write Libya’s new future as a democracy that will give all of your people a chance to have a better future.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Obama Campaign Adviser: Perry Proposal 'Endangers' Israel’s Security

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Obama 2012 campaign lashed back at Texas Gov. Rick Perry after the Republican frontrunner Tuesday blamed the Palestinian statehood crisis playing out at the United Nations on the president.

Perry, campaigning in New York City, said the world was “at this very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.  The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a very dangerous insult.”

Asked for a response, Obama campaign adviser and former Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla, said, “Apparently Gov. Perry needs to do some homework on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and particularly on Israeli security needs.  His speech was riddled with misunderstandings of the conflict and with falsehoods about President Obama’s superb record on Israel.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and President Peres have all praised President Obama publicly for his work on Israel’s behalf and unprecedented US-Israeli security cooperation under Obama’s leadership.  With all due respect to Gov. Perry, what does he know about Israel’s interests that Netanyahu, Barak, and Peres dont know?”

Wexler, currently the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, charged that “Perry misrepresented Obama’s statements on the 1967 lines -- as Netanyahu and Barak have both affirmed, the president said that Israel should not have to return to those lines.  President Obama has consistently embraced the principles in support of Israel that Gov. Perry outlined in his speech -- publicly calling for the disarming of Hamas, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland of the Jewish people, and the direct negotiations to resolve the conflict.  In fact, it is ironic that Perry chooses this week to level these unfounded criticisms at the president -- since President Obama and his administration have been working tirelessly to head off the Palestinian’s unilateral statehood declaration at the U.N. this week.”

Wexler continued, saying that “Perry’s demand that the U.S. defund the Palestinian Authority would effectively dismantle the Palestinian security forces, forces that America built and trained -- which would significantly endanger Israel security and the safety of ordinary Israelis.  Perry’s demand is also in direct contradiction with an Israeli report that defunding the PA would not be in Israel’s interests.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Obama to Meet with Israeli, Palestinian Leaders; Address United Nations

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With Palestine’s bid for statehood at the United Nations looming, President Obama will hold separate meetings Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

While the U.S. and its allies had been scrambling to convince Abbas to abandon his bid for recognition in the United Nations Security Council on Friday, they have now pivoted instead to mitigating its effect and establishing a path back toward negotiations with Israel.

The issue is just one of the many that President Obama will tackle during his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday morning.

“Right now, we could not be clearer that we have for some time now opposed Palestinian efforts to pursue statehood on a unilateral basis through the United Nations.  And it’s the United States that is working very aggressively to make that case and to make that clear to all the parties involved,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, peace is going to have to be made between the parties; that it can’t be imposed from the outside, that it can’t be accomplished through actions at the United Nations,” he said.

Obama is also expected to address the ongoing democratic transitions around the world, including the revolutions in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, the nonproliferation agenda and the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama’s UNGA address is just his first speech of the day.  The president will also deliver remarks Wednesday afternoon at the Clinton Global Initiative.

In addition to Abbas and Netanyahu, the president will also meet Wednesday with Prime Minister Noda of Japan, UNGA President Al-Nasser, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Sarkozy.

Finally, the president and first lady will attend a UNGA reception in the evening before returning to the White House late Wednesday night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Obama in New York City for UN General Assembly

The White House/Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama is in New York City Tuesday for his first full day at the United Nations General Assembly, where he will meet with world leaders and spend the next two days on a range of issues that include Libya, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

First up is a meeting with the chairman of Libya’s new governing group, the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

“We put a lot of effort into Libya in the course of the last several weeks to get international support for post-Gadhafi Libya, and that’s going to be the focus of these meetings,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Monday.

With U.S. support, the TNC was recently seated as a representative of the Libya government at the U.N.

Next, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the transition to Afghan security forces.  This marks the first meeting between the two leaders since the White House announced its plan for withdrawal.

Later, the president will meet with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey.

In the evening, the president and first lady will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at Gotham Hall in New York City.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep072011

Former Ambassador John Bolton Not Running for President

Jemal Countess/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- John Bolton will not be making the Republican presidential field any more crowded.

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night that he won’t be jumping into the race for the Republican nomination.

On the eve of Wednesday’s GOP debate in California, Bolton said on Fox: "I've decided not to run, but it was a very difficult decision."

It appears, however, that Bolton, who has a contract with Fox, still plans to insert his views on foreign policy into the mix.

"My view has not changed one iota that we need a much more robust debate on national security issues in this campaign,” he said.  "Our nation is sleep walking into crises internationally"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Former UN Ambassador Might Seek GOP Presidential Nod

Jemal Countess/WireImage(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Add John Bolton to the list of potential candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

The outspoken former United Nations ambassador made his presence known over the weekend at Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King's Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, blasting President Obama's foreign policy.

In particular, Bolton says that the White House and its allies waited too long to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and says it's up to the U.S. to get rid of Col. Moammar Gadhafi once and for all.

Although Bolton's credentials in foreign affairs is strong, he may have a difficult time with GOP hardliners on social issues, since he supports gays openly serving in the military and doesn't believe the government should ban homosexuals from marrying.

As for possible White House ambitions, Bolton, who has never held public office, says he can wait until the summer or fall to make a decision about running.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

Gingrich Scolds Obama: US Looks ‘Weak And Uncertain’ On Libya

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Likely presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Friday that every day Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi remains in power, the United States looks “weak and uncertain” and only adds to the growing unrest in the Middle East.

Gingrich criticized the Obama administration for not moving faster to oust Gadhafi after President Obama declared earlier this month that he needed to go.

“This is the opposite of Eisenhower and Reagan -- neither of whom would have held a press conference and both of whom would have made sure that he was gone,” Gingrich said. “There are a lot of ways to get rid of a dictator if you want to, but this idea that we posture, we talk, we have diplomatic meetings … it makes us look weak and uncertain.”

Referring to Thursday night’s United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against the Libyan government, Gingrich said, “Western Democracies have now made clear that they’re prepared to get rid of Gadhafi. Well, they better have a plan.”

Gingrich offered up the criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to the crisis after an event marking the first anniversary of the passage of the nation's health care law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Will Obama Administration Veto UN Resolution Critical of Israel?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration finds itself in a diplomatic jam.

It is possible that later Friday it will have to decide whether or not to break from its steadfast support for Israel in the United Nations and support a measure in the Security Council that nearly reiterates its own policy.

The source of the quandary is a resolution introduced at the Security Council last month by Lebanon and backed by more than a hundred countries, that would condemn Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank as "illegal."

The United States, seeking to avoid a step it believes would further complicate efforts to revive stalled peace talks, has since scrambled to prevent the resolution from being put to a vote.

Led by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, the United States has proposed alternatives, including a weaker so-called Presidential Statement that it says would be non-binding and also balance the criticism by mentioning rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza, according to a U.S. official.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. is searching for a solution, but wouldn't say what.

"We are working with our partners in the Security Council, with our friends in the region, to find a consensus way forward that is consistent with our overall approach.  There are a lot of rumors flying around and I'm not going to get into any specifics at this time," she said.

U.N. diplomats tell ABC News the Palestinians have to decide soon whether to accept the alternative, otherwise the Lebanese are prepared to put the original resolution to a vote on Friday afternoon.  If the resolution comes to a vote, the United States would have to decide whether to veto it or abstain and let it pass.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Obama to Announce US support for Indian Seat on UN Security Council

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW DELHI, India) -- President Obama will deliver a speech to the Indian Parliament Monday morning in which he will call for India to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council -- a huge development in the world of international politics, and one virulently opposed by India’s nemesis, Pakistan.

“This is a decision the president has made because of the strategic importance of India, because the president is fighting for jobs in America, because the president sees a more prosperous and peaceful Asia, India is a cornerstone of that Asian policy,” said U.S. Ambassador to India Tom Roemer in an interview with ABC News.  “We have security challenges in Afghanistan, fragility in Pakistan, great economic markets in India.  India is a partner strategically in the Indian ocean and in maritime security and in intelligence sharing.  This is really an indispensible partnership, as the president has said.”

India's desire for a seat on the powerful security council has been well-known for years, but until now the U.S. refrained from taking a position as others including Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Japan, and South Africa have also started campaigning for a slot on a reconstituted and reformed council.  The White House also supports Japan being given a permanent seat, as first pledged by President George W. Bush.

There are currently five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the U.S., U.K., Russia, China and France.  But for years, United Nations officials have discussed reforming and expanding the security council to better represent the world.

The president will “discuss how we look forward to a reformed Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” said deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes in a preview of the president’s speech.  “This is of course a very important issue to the Indian people and it reflects in an important way the extent to which the United States welcomes India on the world stage as a risen power and as a key partner of ours.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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