68th United Nations General Assembly | Al Jazeera America

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68th United Nations General Assembly

Breaking news and updates from the 68th meeting of the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations in New York starting on September 17th, 2013.

  • #UNSG met with Foreign Minister @MOFAkr_eng of #ROK to discuss Syria situation & Korean Peninsula bit.ly/18sE3fA
  • Resolution on #SmallArms adopted by 14 votes and one abstention. #UNSC

    by Mission of Rwanda UN via twitter edited by AJAM Staff 9/26/2013 7:37:52 PM
  • The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded, #UNSG tells #UNSC meeting on Small Arms bit.ly/1bJ2bQa
  • Senior state dep't official: "Do not anticipate that any issues will be resolved during today’s P5+1 meeting" on #Iran
  • Senior state dep't official: ... but "hopeful that we can continue to chart a path forward" with #Iran
  • A senior State Department official tells Al Jazeera's Benedict Moran that government officials "do not anticipate" that any issues regarding Iran's nuclear program will be resolved during Thursday's P5+1 meeting.

    "We hope that this new Iranian government will show that it is prepared to engage substantively to address these long standing concerns and we will see today and in months ahead whether they will follow words with action," the official said.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry attended the UN's first-ever Ministerial Event on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Rights on Thursday, September 26. Below is a full transcript of Secretary Kerry's remarks:

    Well, thank you very much (inaudible). Thank you, and I apologize to all of my colleagues for being a little bit late. I’m sorry about that.

    But it is an enormous honor to be part of this event, which is the first of its kind in the history of the United Nations, and I think we should take pride in that. I thank the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, who I visited with in Washington just last week, and all of our colleagues who are here for joining together in an historic statement.

    We really do send a clear and compelling message by coming together today, and it’s not just in support of gays and lesbians around the world; it’s really in support of the founding values of this institution.

    When the United Nations was formed, the founders declared this purpose: “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, and in the dignity and worth of the human person.” The human person, not one human person, not certain human persons, but the human person, all people. And for too long, with respect to affirming the dignity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons, this organization fell short of meeting that obligation, as did many entities in the world and many of our countries. With our work together over the past several years, we have made almost unfathomable progress in the rapidity with which people have come to break down walls of injustice and barriers of prejudice, really quite stunning. And I think we should all acknowledge that we are living up to, in this initiative and in other efforts that have taken place in the past years, the founding principles of the United Nations, and in many ways, the universal values that organize many of our societies.

    For its part, the United States and the Obama Administration is fully committed to this work. I took personal satisfaction this past year when the United States Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act – and I say personal satisfaction because I was one of 14 senators who voted against that when it was passed – and that prevented federal recognition of same-sex marriages. That decision paves the way for policies and programs that support all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

    We also believe the United Nations is a powerful platform to advance our support for the human rights of LGBT persons. Advancing equality for LGBT persons isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also fundamental to advancing democracy and human rights, which are at the foundation of American foreign policy, and I think the foreign policy of most of our colleagues, if not all of our colleagues here. We all know that as societies become more inclusive, they become better partners within the global community, and they become partners, all of whom are joined together by common values and common interests.

    That is why we put such weight behind the unprecedented Human Rights Council resolution two years ago affirming LGBT rights. It’s also why we co-authored, along with Colombia and Slovenia, a joint statement in support of these efforts that was signed by 85 UN members.

    But this moment has to be more than a moment to simply celebrate how far we have come, or the historic nature of this particular event. When people continue to be harassed, arrested or even murdered simply because of who they are or who they love or what they believe, how their lives are organized and structured, then we have to recommit to our work together. In too many places around the world, LGBT persons are still punished for simply exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.

    The Global Equality Fund is one way in which likeminded countries can address this injustice and show their support for LGBT persons. Since the United States launched the Fund in 2011, it has allocated over 7 million in more than 50 countries worldwide. And the investments have helped to challenge the discriminatory laws that undermine human rights and bolster – and to bolster civil society organizations that defend those rights.

    With support from a range of likeminded governments, including Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, and private sector partners as well, we are expanding the scope of the programs that this Fund supports. Earlier this month, President Obama and the Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt announced an additional $12 million for this effort. And today, I’m happy to announce another 1 million contribution from The Netherlands, and we’re grateful to you for that.

    We hope that every ally of LGBT persons around the world, including governments and corporations, are going to join us in this important work. And it’s very, very clear that if we continue to work as we have been, if we come together at events like this and others, we do send a message of solidarity with LGBT persons around the world, and we strengthen their ability – some of them in very tough places – to be able to exercise their fundamental human rights.

    As we think about our work ahead, we would do well to remember the fundamental challenge of the United Nations. Nearly 70 years ago, this body was created, quote, “to promote social progress and better standards of life, in larger freedom.” There are few areas where I think our task is so clear, and what we need to do is make sure that we are working for that larger freedom for all people, and for the rights and the dignity of LGBT persons around the world.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


  • Security Council will meet at 8pm tonight on draft resolution on #Syria chemical weapons, closed consultations.
  • Britain's UN ambassador says key powers reach accord on UN resolution on Syria weapons.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tells Reuters that Russia has reached an understanding with the US on the UN Security Council's Syria resolution. 

    The Security Council will hold closed-door consultations on the Syria chemical weapons draft resolution at 8pm ET, according to the French UN mission
  • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says Iran, world powers have agreed to substantive nuclear talks on October 15th and 16th in Geneva.

    Ashton also said Iran can either respond to the major powers' existing nuclear proposal or "make a proposal of its own."

    Ashton added that 12 months is 'a good period of time' for Iran to think about implementation of nuclear measures.
  • EU's Catherine Ashton confirms P5+1 and #Iran will meet Oct in Geneva nuclear talks. Says convo was "energetic" but have to be "practical"

  • A senior State Department official praised the UN accord on Syria's chemical weapons as "a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy." 

    Just two weeks ago, no one thought this was in the vicinity of possible. After close consultation with the P3, the Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons. 
     
    This is historic and unprecedented because it puts oversight of the Assad regime's compliance under international control and it's the first UNSCR to declare that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to peace and security.   Equally as important, it makes absolutely clear that failure of the Assad regime to comply will have consequences. Later this evening there will be a full consultation with the UNSC to discuss text.



  • The tone and spirit of a  meeting on Thursday between six world powers and Iran on Tehran's nuclear program was "extremely good," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

    Hague made the comment after the meeting he attended with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and counterparts from the United States, France, Russia, China and Germany on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. 

    The talks were aimed at jump-starting efforts to resolve a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

  • After meeting one-on-one with Iran's foreign minister, Secretary of State John Kerry says he is pleased with a new positive tone from Iran on talks over its nuclear program.

    But, he says one meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is not going to resolve international concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions. Kerry said Thursday that Iran had to demonstrate its willingness to come clean about its nuclear program with actions.

    Kerry spoke after he and the foreign ministers from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany met with Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Kerry and Zarif then met privately for a short time.

    [AP]
  • At mtg of Group of Friends on #Myanmar , #UNSG voices hope for nationwide ceasefire soon bit.ly/186yjcv
  • #Russia 's Churkin says hopeful for a vote on #Syria resolution friday night if #oPCW can adopt their draft decision friday.
  • Amb Churkin says hopes OPCW Executive Council will vote tomorrow afternoon and Security Council vote Friday night on #Syria CW resolution.
  • Russian Amb Churkin says FM Lavrov has extended his stay in NY to participate in SC vote Friday night.
  • #SYRIA #CW -The #UN Security Council will most likely vote on the #chemicalweapons resolution Friday evening, after a decision of the #OPCW
  • The US and Russia have said they have finally reached an agreement on a UN Security Council resolution aimed at ridding Syria of its chemical weapons.

    The UN Security Council could vote as early as Friday night on a draft resolution to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, a senior US and Russian officials said on Thursday.

    Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN envoy said he hoped the Security Council would be able to vote on a resolution demanding the eradication of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal about 8 pm ET

    "I know that some ministers are extending their stay in New York in order to participate in that vote," Churkin said.

    A senior US official also voiced hopes of a vote, after Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, confirmed on Twitter that a deal was reached with Russia "legally obligating" Syria to give up its chemical stockpile, and that the measure would go to the full Security Council on Thursday night.
  • Warm initial welcome from #UNSC members for draft P5 SCR on #Syria CW. Should be possible to vote as soon as #OPCW decision. Friday night?
  • Reuters reports that this is the full text of the UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

    The United States and Russia reached an agreement on the accord Thursday at the UN General Assembly .


    The Security Council,

    PP1. Recalling the Statements of its President of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012, and its resolutions 1540 (2004), 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012),

    PP2. Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,

    PP3. Reaffirming that the proliferation of chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

    PP4. Recalling that the Syrian Arab Republic on 22 November 1968 acceded to the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925,

    PP5. Noting that on 14 September 2013, Syria deposited with the Secretary-General its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Convention) and declared that it shall comply with its stipulations and observe them faithfully and sincerely, applying the Convention provisionally pending its entry into force for the Syrian Arab Republic,

    PP6. Welcoming the establishment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic ("the Mission") pursuant to General Assembly resolution 42/37 C (1987) of 30 November 1987, and reaffirmed by resolution 620 (1988) of 26 August 1988, and expressing appreciation for the work of the Mission,

    PP7. Acknowledging the report of 16 September 2013(S/2013/553) by the Mission, underscoring the need for the Mission to fulfill its mandate, and emphasizing that future credible allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic should be investigated,

    PP8. Deeply outraged by the use of chemical weapons on 21 August 2013 in Rif Damascus, as concluded in the Mission's report, condemning the killing of civilians that resulted from it, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

    PP9. Recalling the obligation under resolution 1540 (2004)that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, and their means of delivery,

    PP10. Welcoming the Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons dated 14 September 2013, in Geneva, between the Russian Federation and the United States of America (S/2013/565), with a view to ensuring the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program in the soonest and safest manner, and expressing its commitment to the immediate international control over chemical weapons and their components in the Syrian Arab Republic,

    PP11. Welcoming the decision of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of establishing special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof, and expressing its determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program according to the timetable contained in the OPCW Executive Council decision of,

    PP12. Stressing that the only solution to the current crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process based on the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, and emphasising the need to convene the international conference on Syria as soon as possible,

    PP13. Determining that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

    PP14. Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council's decisions,

    1. Determines that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

    2. Condemns in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on 21 August 2013, in violation of international law;

    3. Endorses the decision of the OPCW Executive Council, which contains special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof and calls for its full implementation in the most expedient and safest manner;

    4. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to other States or non-State actors;

    5. Underscores that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons;

    6. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall comply with all aspects of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of (Annex I);

    7. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations, including by complying with their relevant recommendations, by accepting personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations, by providing for and ensuring the security of activities undertaken by these personnel, by providing these personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites, and by allowing immediate and unfettered access to individuals that the OPCW has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate, and decides that all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully in this regard;

    8. Decides to authorize an advance team of United Nations personnel to provide early assistance to OPCW activities in Syria, requests the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to closely cooperate in the implementation of the Executive Council decision of and this resolution, including through their operational activities on the ground, and further requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Director-General of the OPCW and, where appropriate, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, to submit to the Council within 10 days of the adoption of this resolution recommendations regarding the role of the United Nations in eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program;

    9. Notes that the Syrian Arab Republic is a party to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, decides that OPCW-designated personnel undertaking activities provided for in this resolution or the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of shall enjoy the privileges and immunities contained in the Verification Annex, Part II(B) of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and calls on the Syrian Arab Republic to conclude modalities agreements with the United Nations and the OPCW;

    10. Encourages Member States to provide support, including personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, and financial and other resources and assistance, in coordination with the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General, to enable the OPCW and the United Nations to implement the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program, and decides to authorize Member States to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons identified by the Director-General of the OPCW, consistent with the objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program in the soonest and safest manner;

    11. Urges all Syrian parties and interested Member States with relevant capabilities to work closely together and with the OPCW and the United Nations to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission, recognizing the primary responsibility of the Syrian government in this regard;

    12. Decides to review on a regular basis the implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council and this resolution, and requests the Director-General of the OPCW to report to the Security Council, through the Secretary-General, who shall include relevant information on United Nations activities related to the implementation of this resolution, within 30 days and every month thereafter, and requests further the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to report in a coordinated manner, as needed, to the Security Council, non-compliance with this resolution or the OPCW Executive Council decision of;

    13. Reaffirms its readiness to consider promptly any reports of the OPCW under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which provides for the referral of cases of non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council;

    14. Decides that Member States shall inform immediately the Security Council of any violation of resolution 1540 (2004), including acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials in order to take necessary measures therefore;

    Accountability

    15. Expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable;

    Political transition

    16. Endorses fully the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 (Annex II), which sets out a number of key steps beginning with the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, which could include members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent;

    17. Calls for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué, and calls upon all Syrian parties to engage seriously and constructively at the Geneva Conference on Syria, and underscores that they should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation;

    Non-Proliferation

    18. Reaffirms that all Member States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any violations of this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

    19. Demands that non-State actors not develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer, or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any actions inconsistent with this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

    20. Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of chemical weapons, related equipment, goods and technology or assistance from the Syrian Arab Republic by their nationals, or using their flagged vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic;

    Compliance

    21. Decides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter;

    22. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

    Britain's UN ambassador says key powers reach accord on UN resolution on Syria weapons.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tells Reuters that Russia has reached an understanding with the US on the UN Security Council's Syria resolution. 

  • This is framework agreed by US-Russia Sept14 on #Syria chem weapons. Nothing surprising in UNSC draft res. m.state.gov/md214247.htm
  • Russia, US reach 'understanding' on Syria chemical weapons resolution

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Russia and the United States have reached an "understanding" on a draft of a United Nations Security Council resolution to deal with Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, after a weeks-long diplomatic impasse over how to internationally confront the use of chemical weapons against Syrians.

    Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., confirmed the agreement via her Twitter account:

    "The draft UNSCR establishes that #Syria's use of CW (chemical weapons) is threat to international peace & security & creates a new norm against the use of CW," her official account said.

    The U.S. and Russia have been at odds for weeks over what to do about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the agreement clears the way for a larger vote from the rest of the Security Council. The full 15-member Council was set to meet in consultations later in the day.

    According to Power's Twitter account, the resolution sets a precedent against the use of chemical weapons, and legally requires Syria to give up its stockpile.

    "This is a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy," a senior State Department official told Al Jazeera. The official called the resolution "binding" and "enforceable," and said that the "failure of the Assad regime to comply will have consequences."

    Read more.
  • World leaders laud Iran's new tone on nuclear issue

    The U.S. and its European allies said Thursday they were pleased by Iran's new tone and significant shift in attitude in talks aimed at resolving the impasse over the country's disputed nuclear activities. Iran said it was eager to dispel suspicions that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and hopes to get punishing international sanctions lifted as fast as possible.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also had an unexpected one-on-one meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said six world powers and Iran had agreed to fast-track nuclear negotiations with the hope of reaching a deal within a year.

    Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany also agreed to hold a new round of substantive nuclear negotiations on Oct. 15-16 in Geneva.

    "We agreed to jump-start the process so that we could move forward with a view to agreeing first on the parameters of the end game ... and move toward finalizing it hopefully within a year's time," Zarif said after the talks ended. "I thought I was too ambitious, bordering on naiveté. But I saw that some of my colleagues were even more ambitious and wanted to do it faster."

    Kerry said he was struck by a "very different tone" from Tehran in their sessions, which marked the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in six years. But, like his European colleagues, he stressed that a single meeting was not enough to assuage international concerns that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.

    "Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone, that was welcome, does not answer those questions," Kerry told reporters. "All of us were pleased that the foreign minister came today and that he did put some possibilities on the table."

    Read more.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center L), European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton (center L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) are seated during a meeting of the foreign ministers representing the permanent five member countries of the United Nations Security Council, including Germany, at UN Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013. Iran's new government began its first talks on its nuclear program with the United States and five other world powers on Thursday, with the Iranian foreign minister taking a seat next to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a rare high-level contact between the two long-estranged nations. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

  • #SecKerry after P5+1: Met with #Iran FM Zarif. Constructive meeting but still a lot of work to be done.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) are seated during a meeting of the foreign ministers representing the permanent five member countries of the United Nations Security Council, including Germany, at UN Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

  • The UN Human Rights Council adopted ten texts Friday calling on the Syrian regime to grant "immediate access" to the commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law in the course of the country's ongoing civil war.

    "Concerning the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Council demanded that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry, including by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the country," the Council writes. "The Council strongly condemned the continued gross, systematic and widespread violations of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and affiliated militias, as well as any human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed opposition groups. It deplored the deteriorating humanitarian situation, and urged the international community to provide urgent financial support to enable the host countries to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees."

    Read the whole statement here.
  • UN experts currently on the ground in Syria will visit seven sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks around the country, the UN has announced.

    The experts aim to prepare a comprehensive report "by late October" that would be "based on a number of allegations... of which seven have been found to warrant investigation," it said in a statement.

    It will complete its work in Syria by Monday, the statement said.
  • French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he hopes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will be able to set a date on Friday for so-called Geneva 2 peace talks on the Syrian conflict.

    The five - France, Britain, Russia, China and the United States - are due to meet with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi later on Friday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.

    "I hope that we will be able to fix a date this evening for Geneva 2," Fabius said.

    [Reuters]
  • Following Thursday's flurry of diplomatic maneuvering at the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke to a crowd at convened by the Asia Society at the headquarters of the Council on Foreign Relation in New York City. Josette Sheeran, president of the Asia Society, relayed questions from the crowd and from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Here's the opening exchange:


    SHEERAN: Well, Mr. President, we thank you very much for those remarks. And I know on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society, we're very pleased that you decided to partake in the only public session during your time here in a meeting with the public, and we think it's very important. And we're also very pleased that you've agreed to take questions not only from this very distinguished group here, but also from others who are with us via Facebook and Twitter, and we're getting many questions. I think I have over 40
    questions for you.

    But I just want to start, because you really ended...

    ROUHANI: Forty or fourteen?

    SHEERAN: Fourteen.

    (LAUGHTER)

    And more will come in, I'm sure. You're nearing the end of your first trip as president here to the United States, and you talked about ushering in a new era of relations, and you just spoke again about opening a window of opportunity.

    President Obama, in his speech at the United Nations, mentioned Iran 26 times. Was there something you heard in that speech that made you feel that there is a window that has opened? And when you go back home, what will you report back to the supreme leader and others in Iran about what you have seen here and learned here about this new era?

    ROUHANI (through translator): I, too, feel that a new era has been created around the world, as it has inside Iran, a new atmosphere, I would say. In fact, the exciting elections that took place and the vote of the people in Iran for moderation and wisdom and hope and prudence has led to a new -- the creation of a new atmosphere for engagement and interaction with the entire world.

    In the series of speeches that I have delivered at the U.N. General Assembly, and on the sideline meetings that I held with a number of world leaders, as well as a number of European leaders, I have arrived at the conclusion that the atmosphere is different completely from the past. I felt that the will demonstrated by Iran as a result of its recent elections to look more towards the future, rather than in the past, is a vision that is also shared among Western leaders.

    What I can say to the people of Iran and their representatives and the authorities in the country, as well as the supreme leader, is that today the world atmosphere, as I see it, is much better than the past. Even in America, it's much better than the past. And the sense of being prepared to watch us take serious steps forward, not only to settle what has happened in the past, but more importantly to move forward to realize the common interest that await us from materialization (ph), I think if I keep on talking with so lengthy -- at such length, we'll have to have breakfast by the time I end up answering all 40 questions.



    Read the full transcript here.
  • Upholding the rule of law at the international level is our collective responsibility, says #UNHQ bit.ly/15yD37u
  • Saddened by death of peacekeeper attacked by M23, #UNSG strongly condemns killing & wounding of @MONUSCO peacekeepers bit.ly/15Zb2ts
  • #UNSG meeting #Pakistan Prime Minister @UN #UNGA - SG expressed condolences for earthquake. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BVLVmAmCEAISM3P.jpg

  • #UNSG : special responsibility rests on 8 countries whose ratifications are needed for #CTBT to enter into force bit.ly/1fMNonP
  • Upholding #Ruleoflaw at international level is our collective responsibility, says #UNSG bit.ly/15yD37u
  • Waiting for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to give press conference, trying to think of a question he hasn't already been asked!! Ideas?
  • Iranian President Rouhani starts press conference with long list of dignitaries he met, inclu French President. US Pres noticeably missing.
  • Rouhani answer: there was not sufficient time for Obama meeting
  • Rouhani: the first step for better relations was taken on this trip. That step was the P5+1 meeting yesterday.
  • Rouhani asked if he had domestic support for his approach. Ans: whatever result we arrive at through negotiations will have backing in Iran.
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