UK & World News
Obama Urges UN To Maintain Pressure On Syria
Barack Obama has called on the UN security council to approve a resolution that will ensure Syria upholds its chemical weapons commitments.
The president says a resolution must include consequences for President Bashar al Assad's regime if he does not meet demands to dismantle his chemical stockpile.
"If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws," Mr Obama said in his address to the UN General Assembly.
"We believe that as a starting point the international community must enforce the ban on international weapons."
The US and Russia brokered an agreement for Syria to give up its chemical weapons in the wake of Mr Obama's call for military strikes against Syria for a chemical weapons attack last month on civilians outside Damascus.
But the countries remain at odds on what the possible consequences would be if Syria does not comply.
Mr Obama said that while the international community has recognised the stakes involved in the more than two-year-old civil war, "our response has not matched the scale of the challenge".
He reiterated his demand that Mr Assad cannot continue to lead Syria, but said he would not use US military force to depose him.
"That is for the Syrian people to decide," Mr Obama said. "Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country."
The president also announced that the United States will provide $339m in additional humanitarian aid to refugees and countries affected by the war, bringing the total American aid devoted to that crisis to nearly $1.4bn.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also used the UN stage to call for a more robust international effort to end Syria's civil war, saying the global community had a responsibility not to abandon the Syrian people.
"This conflict has evolved into a real threat to regional peace and security," Mr Gul said. "Any recurrence of the proxy wars of the Cold War era will plunge Syria into further chaos."
In a UN address primarily focused on the Middle East, the president also said a "diplomatic path must be tested" regarding Iran's nuclear programme.
Mr Obama said he directed US Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a possible nuclear weapons deal with Iran.
The president said he is encouraged by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's more moderate course, but added Dr Rouhani's "conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable".
It is still unclear if Mr Obama will meet with the Iranian president while at the United Nations. Leaders from the two countries have not had face-to-face contact in more than 30 years.
US officials say no meeting is planned, although they have not ruled one out.