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tv   CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello  CNN  September 28, 2015 6:00am-8:01am PDT

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they are a testament to police officers. we see it all the time on the good stuff. they're helping their community. it's wonderful. >> they are. that's it for us on "new day." >> let's get to wolf blitzer and christiane amanpour for the cnn coverage at the u.n. today. good morning and welcome to our special coverage from the united nations. i'm wolf blitzer. >> i'm christiane amanpour. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. >> right now, here at the united nations, the drama is building. the an tis maticipation buildinr speeches from the world's most powerful and controversial leaders. president obama due to speak at the next hour. a parade of adversaries will follow. >> perhaps one of the most anticipated addresses will be from president vladimir putin from russia. first time he's been here for ten years. syria in the cross hairs.
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as we wait to talk to our correspondents, it is about putin putting down his leverage, trying to outflank the united states. >> the addresses will include major speeches. our commentatorcommentators, th some of them, are standing by to break it down. there's a lot to coverage over the next several hours. we'll begin our coverage with jim sciutto, our chief national correspondent. >> we'll see so many of the foreign policy challenges facing the u.s. and the world confronted on this stage at the u.n. issues in ukraine, in syria, climate change, u.s. relations with cuba, and the president speaking today to many of the issues. he'll start with climate change, a new agreement with china, coming from their state visit this past week. russia's intervention in ukraine. recent development upcoming, concerning many u.s. officials. russia's intervention in syria,
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military action and personnel going there, as well. keep in mind then, the president is going to be meeting with the russian president, as well. these issues on the table there. first time they've met since russia invaded ukraine. then you're going to see them speaking to the world, really, from the stage at the u.n. the president leading off the lineup, followed by the russian president. china's president, as well. the iranian president and the cuban president. keep in mind, as well, that president obama says that his speech is going to be talking about the power of diplomacy in solving some of these problems. he's going to take a blunter tone with these issues. on the stage, you'll have two world leaders, where you've seen the power of the diplomacy come through. the cuban and iranian president. you also have two leaders where the u.s. have issues to resolve. russia, china. remains to be seen how they resolve the differences. we're going to be watching closely. >> secretary of state john kerry enters the building, headed
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towards the unga hall. we are going to be looking very closely at what president obama says and what putin says, particularly about syria. >> it's an incredibly tense time around the world, especially in the middle east and north africa right now. certainly, with ukraine, all these issues, jim chute tsciutt they're coming to a head. what the leaders do in the bilateral meetings on the sidelines, if they will, could be critically important. >> no question. you look at russia and ukraine. this is an issue where the american president has not really figured out a solution. they haven't found their common ground to move forward and, certainly on syria, as well. syria is an issue which is accelerating into danger very rapidly. certainly on the issue of refugees coming into europe, but russia's increased involvement. this is a development that the u.s., frankly, is not comfortable with. there's also an open question as to what the u.s. can do about it. russian military personnel and
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equipment on the ground, but also of course, we have the news now of a russian intelligence sharing agreement with iran, syria and u.s. ally iraq. uncomfortable development. >> our global affairs correspondent, i spoke to president rouhani. they're clear that assad is going to stay for awhile and the united states and the rest of the west have to buy on to this. this is a difficult moment for the west who several years ago said assad has to go. putin is really using all his leverage and, frankly, throwing ukraine out the door. no one wants to talk about y ukraine anymore. he's diverted the attention to syria. >> it'll be on the agenda in the speeches, but a lot of cynical u.s. officials would argue what putin is trying to do in syria is trying to change the discussion away from ukraine. these bilateral meetings, where
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we know the real business takes place, that's not on the agenda. it's all, diplomats tell me, syria. it's the crisis now. if you listen to what president rouhani told you and what president putin said on cbs news the other night, it's clear even though there is lip service paid to phasing assad out, he's not going anywhere soon. take a listen to president putin. >>. >> translator: we support the legitimate government of syria and any actions to the contrary to destroy the legitimate government will create a situation you can witness now in the other countries of the region or in other regions. for instance, in libya. where all the state institutions are disintegrated. we see a similar situation in iraq. there's no other solution to the syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government
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structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform. >> so this is what president putin is going to talk about today. he's going to propose a new coalition against terrorism, with russia, with iran, who the u.s. has shunned for years, now seen as an integral part of the solution. the question for u.s. officials right now is, we understand that there is this russian military buildup. i don't think they're that upset about it because everybody knows if assad were to fall right now, that would open a vacuum for isis. what they want to make sure is that this is all done in the context of an eventual political transition. now, you don't hear about, assad has to go immediately, you hear from leaders that assad doesn't have a place in syria's long-term future. what the disrussians are going
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to be about this week, secretary kerry just con vereen -- had a today, they're trying to decide this this week. >> how much leverage does the united states have to push the agenda with russia? >> christiane, you had an important interview with the president of iran, dealing with all these issues, and it was revealing. >> indeed. look, this is how far this non-diplomacy and non-intervention by the west has brought to the west. a switch of tactics on two levels. one, we are actually going to invite the iranians around the table, having said no for the last several years. that's one of the benefits of the iran nuclear deal. it also furthers the agenda of russia and iran in syria. they have divorced the idea of wanting assad to go to a narrow fighting of isis.
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it is likely assad will stay. this is what the president of iran told me when i sat down with him about whether or not they have formally been invited to the talks on syria. >> translator: now, iran with the united states does not have any direct talk s vis-a-vis syria, but with the european union, as well as other countries, does have talks regarding syria. those parties to the talks with iran about syria are in direct conversations with the united states, as well. so perhaps not direct, but there are talks. >> it seems to be that the united states, the united kingdom, russia obviously, iran obviously, are now all talking about a potential transition that involves president assad staying where he is for the moment. >> translator: i think today, everyone has accepted that
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president assad must remain so that we can combat the terrorists. however, as soon as this movement reaches the various levels of success and starts driving out the terrorists on a step by step basis, then other plans must be put into action. so as to hear the voices of the opposition, as well. >> mr. president, this is the first time you've come to the united states since the nuclear agreement has been signed. you must have been watching from iran, the republican presidential campaign, and you must have been seeing some of the debates in which many of the republican candidates have said that if they become president, they will rip up the deal. >> translator: first of all, what is spoken of here in the united states of america, sometimes when i would have time, some of it was broadcast live and i would watch it. some of it was quite laughable.
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it was very strange. things that they spoke of. some of them wouldn't even know where tehran was in relation to iraq. some didn't know where iran was geographically. what they spoke of was quite far away from the truth. the people of iran found it laughable, as a form of entertainment. the other issue is that, yes, certainly, in the united states, some are opposed to it and some are for this agreement. however, the issue of the joint comprehensive plan of action is not just an issue of iran and the united states. it's an international issue. it's an international agreement. can a government become a signatory to an international agreement, and then the subsequent government tear it to shreds? this is something only the likes of saddam hussein would do. any government that replaces the
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current government must keep itself committed to the commitments given by the previous administration. otherwise, that government, that entire country, will lose trust internationally. >> so, wolf, the president of iran, scathing about the notion of any future government could tear up an international agreement, which is cemented in a u.n. security council resolution. also saying, quite clearly, that assad will stay and this is the plan for the moment. i also, to obviously, asked him about the four americans, including our colleague, who is still stuck in iranian jails. >> "washington post" correspondent. >> indeed. he seemed to indicate that a prisoner swap would be the way to unlock this because there are several iranians in jail here. >> it's interesting, we're awaiting the president of the united states at the top of the hour. he's going to be making a major address. we have the leader of iran here. last time, they had a phone conversation. i wonder if they're going to get together for a handshake, a little conversation this time. what are you hearing? >> i asked him and he said, you
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asked me that last year. i don't know whether there's going to be a handshake. i don't put too much into the symbolism. we do write letters to each other and we do do business, official business together. the truth of the matter is that he is not staying beyond today. he's getting on a plane and going back because of the tragedy at the pilgrimage to mecca, where hundreds of iranians were killed in a stampede last week. >> you always have these opportunities for meetings. of course, we had the phone call two years ago. we were in these same chairs and it led to the nuclear agreement. the physical choreography sometimes to arrange those encounters and sometimes to avoid them. here's one where, perhaps, they want to avoid at this time. you have questions as to whether president obama really wanted to sit down with putin but felt it was necessary. it's going to happen. >> we'll see if there is an opportunity with president rouhani. the president of the united states should be arriving soon, getting ready for his major
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address before the entire world at the top of the hour. still to come this hour was pope francis' trip to the u.s. a success? the short answer, yes. rosa flores is back in rome. she flew back with the pontiff. more of our special coverage from here at the united nations right after this. when you're not confident your company's data is secure, the possibility of a breach can quickly become the only thing you think about. that's where at&t can help. at at&t we monitor our network traffic so we can see things others can't. mitigating risks across your business. leaving you free to focus on what matters most.
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welcome back to u.n. headquarters here in new york, as we await the delegation of world leaders who will be addressing this podium today. we want to go back to pope francis, who has landed home in rome after his historic ten-day, six-city trip through the united states and, before that, cuba. >> the white house, congress, united nations, independence hall, it was all quite extraordinary. the itinerary for pope francis on this, his first trip ever, to the united states. >> now, the pope's visit was
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about more than hugs and handshakes, obviously. pope francis challenged america to embrace millions of undocumented immigrants and join a global campaign against climate change and poverty. he also addressed the scandal that has hung over the catholic church for years, and that is how to hold accountable clergy charged with sexual abuse of minors. >> hours after celebrating his final mass in philadelphia, pope francis tweeted gratitude to the american people. quote, with my heartfelt thanks, may the love of christ always guide the american people. god bless america. let's get more on what's going on. cnn's rosa clflores is back in rome. she flew back on shepherd one with the pope. did the pontiff come back and speak with reporters on the flight? >> reporter: he answered about 11 questions. it took more than 45 minutes. it was very impactful, wolf and
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christiane. he is the pope of mercy, but will he exercise mercy when it comes to priests who abuse children and bishops who knew about it? >> reporter: pope francis back at the vat rican this morning after holding a press conference on the plane following his historic u.s. visit, speaking in italian and spanish about sexual abuse within the catholic church. the pope calling his visit to philadelphia, quote, very demonstrative, after meeting with five victims of sexual abuse. he expanded those who could be held accountable, saying, quote, we know the abuses are everywhere in families, in the neighborhoods, in schools, in the gyms, but when a priest abuses, it is very serious. those who cover this up are guilty, even some bishops who covered this up. god weeps for the victims, he
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said in a chapel full of bishops sunday. on the plane, he said he forgives the priests that have committed sexual abuse because, quote, we must forgive because we were all forgiveness. it is another thing to receive that forgiveness. the pope also says about the sex abuse victims who can't forgive their abusers and have lost their faith, quote, i don't judge someone who can't forgive. the pope also saying, consciousness objections like not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples citing religious liberty is a, quote, human right. pope francis says he does not know all of the cases on this issue issue which may include kim davis, but the pontiff saying, quote, if a government official is a human person, he has that right. about his whirlwind five-day u.s. tour, he says, quote, what surprise md me was the warmth, e warmth of the people, so
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lovable. he said washington was warm but more formal. new york was a bit exuberant. at vice president joe biden's grand farewell sunday night, pope francis said, he's leaving the u.s. with, quote, a heart full of gratitude tweeting when he landed, with my heartfelt thanks, may the love of christ always guide the american people. >> i ask you, please, to pray for me. god bless america. [ applause ] >> now, about his quote, saying, i don't judge someone who can't forgive, he was talking about the victims who can't forgive their abusers. he gave a testimonial, a touching testimonial. he said a woman told him that when she told her mother that she had been abused, that her mother lost her faith. she left the church and died an
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atheist. pope francis said, i understand that. god is better than me. i am sure that god accepted her. wolf, christiane? >> very impressive indeed, rosa flores, traveling with the pope. thank you, rosa, very, very much. >> very interestingly, let's take a moment. the pope seems to have given a mixed message there. on the one hand, talking about the crimes of sexual abuse, when he was at church in washington amongst the bishops, on the other hand, talking about forgiving the priests. we spoke to sexual abuse victims who said, look, they have to be held accountable. they can't be just forgiveness and moved around. they must be imprisoned. they must be held accountable, otherwise, there is no resolution to this. that is what everybody is going to be looking to see whether this pope does it. goes beyond the rhetoric of zero tolerance and sets up a tribunal to try those who have been guilty and charge. right now, let's go to our vatican correspondent. she's in philadelphia where we
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were all watching the pope this weekend. so his first trip to the united states, a success. >> reporter: well, i think wolf answered that question. absolutely, yes. i mean, it's been a week, christian christiane. when we've heard terms like the common good, mercy, repeated over and over again in the media, in the halls of congress, at the united nations. i think it's been a week for americans, both personally and as a society, to pause and to reflect. the people i heard from have all said, he's given me something to think about in my own life. and, let's say, on the national scale. the conversation between republicans and democrats. you know, obviously, he's a pope so he's coming in, not really talking so much about specific policies but to remind us of the broader concepts of trying to work together. i think he's certainly been successful in getting his message across.
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christi christiane? >> i'm here with wolf, and we both have lots of questions. obviously, it was his first introduction to america. he must have had a big surprise because he's never been here. maybe he was suspicious of what he would find here. >> i thought it was amazing, the itinerary, the schedule. this is a 78-year-old pontiff, not necessarily in the best of health. they kept his busy every day, hour by hour. then you heard rosa flores. he spent 45 minutes with the press on that flight back to rome. a lot of energy. you watch him every day over there when you're covering the vatican. how does he do it? >> reporter: well, i'll tell you, wolf, the schedule he kept up here was very intense, but it's equally intense at the vatican. i mean, all morning, first of all, he gets up at 4:30, has a mass at 7:00, then he goes into meetings all morning. those meetings can sometimes be with 20 people, 1 person, 100 people. then he has afternoon engagements. he keeps up a very, very
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grueling schedule. i don't know how he does it. i think it must be some kind of interior force that he has. the idea that now he's pope, he feels an urgency about the issues politically and socially and religiously. he's just going to give it all he's got. i think that's what we've seen here. certainly, it's something that's amazed everybody. i'll tell you, it's a schedule that's not going to stop because he gets back now to the vatican and goes right in next week on sunday to the international meeting of bishops to discuss some of the issues we've been talking about this week. no rest for the pope. wolf? >> yes, indeed. that's a very, very important thing. thank you so much. let us not forget that we are at the united nations. the pope addressed this podium, was on this podium, on friday, exhorted world leaders to do what they had to do to resolve the pressing issues of this time. say that as we wait for the world leaders, to see what
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they're going to say. >> the president of the united states will be arriving here momentarily, at the top of the hour, he'll be delivering his major address before the united nations general assembly. we're all angxious to hear what president obama has to say. when we come back, we'll look at politics in the united states and the race for the white house. donald trump says his tax plan will be spectacular. we have the new polls showing dr. ben carson neck and neck with donald trump. time for the gop front runner to start worrying a bit? much more of our special coverage from here at the united nations, right after that. it . we build it in classrooms and exhibit halls, mentoring tomorrow's innovators. we build it raising roofs, preserving habitats and serving america's veterans. every day, thousands of boeing volunteers help make their communities the best they can be. building something better for all of us.
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i'm a gas service my nrepresentative. n. i've been with pg&e nine years. as an employee of pg&e you always put your best foot forward to provide reliable and safe service and be able to help the community. we always have the safety of our customers and the community in mind. my family is in oakland, my wife's family is in oakland so this is home to us. being able to work in the community that i grew up in, customers feel like friends, neighbors and it makes it a little bit more special. together, we're building a better california. welcome back to our special coverage. on the left side of the screen, ban ki-moon is addressing the u.n. general assembly, kicking
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off the 70th anniversary. delegates are arriving. world leaders. almost 200 world leaders are in new york, including president obama. he will be delivering his address. a major national security address at the top of the hour. we'll have extensive, live coverage. that's coming up. let's get to the race for the white house. there are developments, important developments here in the united states. the republican presidential front runner donald trump, he's unveiling his new tax plan today. tax plan he says would set a zero rate for low income americans. we're going to get all the information, 90 minutes or so from now, at a news conference trump will told here in new york city. last night, trump revealed some details during an interview with "60 minutes." >> there will be a large segment of our country that will have a zero rate, a zero rate, and that's something i haven't told anybody. >> you're talking about -- >> we're talking about people in the low income brackets that are supposed to be paying taxes. many don't anyway. >> you're talking about making
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part of the population exemption from income tax? >> that is correct. >> cutting corporate income tax? >> that is correct. >> all this as a new wall street journal poll reveals dr. ben carson is closing in on trump's lead. look at the new numbers. the two candidates neck and neck. trump at 21%. carson right behind. let's bring in our political reporter. she's watching wla ining what's. it's getting close between carson and trump. >> good morning, wolf. i want to dig a little deeper into donald trump's tax plan. the wall street journal got an early look at it so we can give you their view on what's in it. it has the zero percent tax rate for couples earning less than $50,000 a year. it puts the top tax rate for individuals at 25%. right now, the top tax rate is around 40%. that's potentially a big cut. not just for middle class families but also high earners. we're looking at a 15% corporate
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tax rate, so it would be a cut there, too. the big question trump will have to answer is how you pay for all that stuff. we'll be looking for those details at the 11:00 a.m. press conference. all of this is happening as donald trump is facing some of his republican rivals gaining on him. the nbc news poll shows donald trump in the lead at 21%, but he and ben carson are basically in a dead heat at this point. carson has 20%. even people like marco rubio and carly fiorina are gaining. both are at 11%. a couple months ago, fiorina was at hash marks so that's a big jump for her. michael cohen was on "new day" earlier this morning and had this to say about ben carson gaining on donald trump. >> ben carson, from what i understand, is a lovely guy. just think about it this way, if ben carson showed up to a fortune 500 company with the
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resume that he has, let's see, n neurosurgeon, great. would you let him run a fortune 500 company? the answer is probably no. how would you let him run an $18 trillion company? where is the -- he's a brilliant man, yes, he's a neurosurgeon. all the respect in the world for what he does. but it doesn't make him qualified. >> you can see cohen making the argument that ben carson might be a great doctor but maybe not ready to be commander in chief. we'll see if his campaign responds later today. wolf? >> we'll have coverage of that coming up at 11:00 a.m. eastern. thank you very much. quick note for our viewers. make sure to tune in later tonight, 7:00 p.m. eastern, erin burnett will have a special sit down, one-on-one with donald trump. that's later tonight, 7:00 p.m. eastern. still to come this hour, my one-on-one interview with egypt's president. he's here at the united nations, as well. does he believe the united
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welcome back. i'm here with wolf blitzer. christiane amanpour. outside the u.n. headquarters. we're waiting for president obama to take the podium, perhaps in 20 minutes from now. this is always an incredibly important moment. it's almost like back to school, where the president and other world leaders lay out their agendas for the next year and beyond, beyond, on issues such as climate change, war. everyone is anxious to hear what president putin will say. the first time the leader addressed the u.n. in ten years. it appears he has the upper hand
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when it's coming to what to do next about the terrible war in syria. >> i think terrorism continues. the president of egypt is here at the united nations. he says extremism is his country's biggest threat right now. he says isis is surging and for this egyptian leader, president el sisi, now is the time, he says, for egypt, incledeed for entire middle east, to come together. he spoke to me about the united states' involvement and the move he said could devastate the middle east region. listen to this. >> do you believe the united states is doing enough to fight isis right now? >> translator: in the war against terror, things are really complicated and very tough. if we're talking about forces, no one army will be able to stand against the u.s. military might. but we're talking here about terrorists.
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we're talking about fragmented terrorist members that are already mingling among the civilians. this presents a different nature of that counterterrorism effort, that needs enormous flow of information and it needs very quick response. >> i'm confused about what egypt's position is as far as syria is concerned. what do you hope happens in syria? >> translator: what i hope for syria is that the statehood does not fall completely into the hands of terrorists and extremists. i don't hope that the syrian army collapses and then its weapons and ammunitions will be at the free play of the extremists. i don't want to see the country dismantling. >> do you want president ashbas al assad to remain in power? >> translator: my answer to such
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question, as a matter of fact, as to relate to the proposition that i have been offering. the idea is that i have my eye on the real danger. bashar and the syrian opposition, this is something that can be handled. it can be managed. what cannot be handled and can really get out of hand and becobeko become detrimental and devastating to the country is if the whole country falls into the hands of these terrorist groups. this will have a direct impact on the security and stability of the whole region. >> what is egypt's position on the iran nuclear deal? this is a very important question. >> translator: i am with any action that could ease the tension and drive away the war
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away from this region. this region has enough problems now and for the coming years. most important thing about the deal is that it should not have a negative impact on the arab national security and egypt is an integral part of this security. >> very diplomatic, speaking of the iran nuclear deal. he says let's hope it works, but i suspect he's not all that enthusiastic, given the tense relationship with iran right now. >> of course, repeating the mantra. on this issue of syria, he's on iran's side and russia's side and everybody else's side. the mantra shifted from, assad must go. remember the president of the united states said that several years ago. to, okay, he's going to have to stay because. so this is a very important shift in dynamic. you know, of course, the united states has problems with president sisi, as well. not exactly a democrat, but i
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spoke to the deputy -- former deputy cia director. he said, look, the west is going back to a security relationship with egypt, saudi arabia, because they so badly miscalculated what would happen after the arab spring. the vacuum was filled by al qaeda and isis. >> he made it clear, not just hearing this from president abdel fattah el sisi, the president of egypt, he said if the regime of assad would go, the syrian military would collapse, all of the military hardware could end up in the hands of terrorists. he specifically said that not only would endanger further syria, but jordan, lebanon and even israel potentially could be in danger. >> even israel knows that assad was the principle cause of all of this. he has been the one to give the space to isis and so many hundreds of thousands of syrians who have fled syria have fled assad. that is what is the crux of the issue. now, of course, because isis has
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got involved, they need to fight isis. again, isis, according to most national security people you talk to in the united states and elsewhere, will not be defeated without a ground force. will not. >> we'll have more of the interview with president el sisi coming up later today on cnn account at 1:00 p.m. you have more of your interview with president rouhani. coming up, president obama set to take the stage in a few moments at the united nations general assembly on this, the seventh time around for president obama. he promises to be very blunt. we see him arriving at the u.n. stay with us for our special coverage.
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this is now my seventh year of addressing the general assembly. i tend to be more blunt. along with the gray hair, i'm becoming more likely to speak my mind. so, indulge me when i say that we will never achieve our goals if we do not squarely confront several insidious threats to the dignity and well-being of people around the world. >> so, get ready for some tough talk from president obama at the united nations. >> the speech getting ready in only about 15 minutes or so from now. the president of the united states delivering a major, major foreign policy speech. christia christiane, let's set the stage. >> let's do. we're joined by cnn white house correspondent michelle kosinski
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and jim sciutto. what for the president is the big thing? >> syria. that's the core, and other issues in the region as well. he wants to use this as sort of an anniversary moment to talk about modern leadership. that's what we've been told by the white house, to say modern leadership, what does that mean right now? in his view it's all about diplomacy. he's going to hammer that on iran, on syria, on the fight against isis even since those are connected. he wants to say it's about democracy. it's about nations working together, not about aggression when you confront these threats. he wants to talk about confrontation as well. he wants other countries to be making real commitments and positive commitments. of course, russia's new role in this has really changed the plan and changed the game. that's kind of the wild card here, what russia's new role is going to do to the president's view of the plan. >> obviously, putin's speech,
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which everybody is eager to hear. it's even more exciting than president obama's speech, because he's expected to lay down the vision for syria. and how will the u.s. deal with that. because when it comes to diplomacy, they say actually putin has outflanked the united states. >> i think what's interesting is the white house has been saying, you know, we want to sit down with putin now and get some clarity. find out exactly what putin's intent is, not only in syria, but in ukraine. that's something that hasn't been talked about face to face either. putin last night said there is no mystery here. this is what i want to do. other nations, including russia, are going to back up assad because that's the legitimate government and that's the way you fight isis. that is in direct odds with president obama's view of how to get out of this problem. what's interesting is, they have the same goal, to defeat isis. but they see the cause and how
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you get at that so differently there's a lot of room for big problems. as the white house described it, this is a dangerous game russia could be playing. >> as important as the president's speech will be, president putin's speech, president rouhani, all these world leaders are here, what happens on the sidelines, as they say these private one-on-one exchanges could be critical. >> you have so many -- >> by the way, president rouhani arriving at the united nations just moments ago. >> you have so many key crises facing the world to be confronted here, because they have to be confronted. you have syria, and ukraine. the president with his message of diplomacy, he said he's going to bluntly push for that. he can talk about his successes, but diplomacy in syria hasn't worked. while they have shared interest in syria, they have conflict in
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syria as well. they have all to present a vision where diplomacy can work, where after years of trying, it hasn't worked. ukraine, the war, not getting better. crimea, no one is even talking about crimea anyway. and syria, the blood shed continues. they have to present a vision that's practical and credible. >> we'll check in with richard roth momentarily. let's take a quick break while we athe way the president at the united nations getting ready to deliver a major address. much more of our special coverage right after this. sure, tv has evolved over the years.
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the president of the u.s. is expected to speak shortly. at any moment he'll stand before the u.n. general assembly and deliver a speech he says will be more blunt than others he's delivered on this world stage in the past. >> followed by many of the most powerful and controversial leaders in the world. each will push their own agenda but all will address change and conflict that's unfolding dramatically around the world right now. white house correspondent michelle kosinski, national correspondent jim sciutto and richard roth. the president of brazil opening up this 70th anniversary general assembly event right now. brazil, i take it, always goes first. is that right? >> that's right. over 60 years ago they didn't know who should speak first, and brazil volunteered. there you go. the u.s. is the host country, follows second. president obama, we're still waiting for his arrival here. i think they usually time this out so he doesn't stand and wait
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backstage. this is the u.n.'s 70th anniversary and it's amazing to see this cattle cade of diplomats and leaders walk in. i don't want to get too cozy about it with the death and destruction around the world. like the diplomats on cars. president rouhani walk by. we're waiting for president putin, who's coming in in the next 20 minutes. maybe that was the time it avoid president obama. i think it will be interesting, will he be in the audience, i'm not so sure, to hear president obama. wolf? >> it's interesting, almost 200 world leaders here at the united nations right now. security is pretty tight here in new york city. >> as richard alluded to, it's always interesting to see who's going to be in the audience to to listen and what diplomatic signal that sends. we're here with jim and michelle. stand by because we're bringing in our panelist, bobby, managing
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editor, and mike rogers and cnn political correspondent, dan pfeiffer. if i might just go to mike rogers, who was the chairman of the house intelligence committee first, given the importance of intelligence matters, war and peace, and particularly syria, wonder if we could get your perspective on what we think the result of these two major speeches from president obama and president putin on the way forward in syria. what do you think is going to happen? >> well, two things happened that are fairly interesting. we have to remember what russia really wants out of this. they've always said they want to get the tartis port in, a warm water port in syria, leased from the syrians to russians. they have a naval presence there. they to want keep that. they want to continue military sales in syria, so they're preserving that. they just did something interest to set the table for this speech, they cut a deal between
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syrians, iran and iraq on an intelligence-sharing regime, which means the russian intelligence services are going to have a broader, more deeper involvement in those regions. if you think about the dramatic change of that, 12 months ago you would have not -- it would have been very difficult for russian intelligence to operate freely in iraq in any capacity. now they've got this three-country region and i think putin feels he's large and this charge. this intelligence piece is going to be very, very important. >> mike, we've just seen the motorcade, the heavily armored motorcade of president obama come past us. he's obviously going to be walking in very soon and starting his speech. you have just made a commercial and sort of power play response to what putin is trying to do. in terms of what the west is interested in, will it stop the war? how about isis? who's going to end up on top in syria in the foreseeable future? >> if you look at the facts we
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know on the ground today, it's clearly going to be russia, so they have this new deal in iran, the nuclear deal, of which russia is all over, and they're signing contracts that cannot be undone, acordsing to the nuclear deal, even if they find iran cheating. that is a stable relationship that's only going to grow. this protects assad if anything happens. the russias would throw assad over in a minute if they knew what was next and could continue their role of influence. i think russia is in a very good place to try to dictate the details of what happens next in syria. they've got armament there, they've got combat aircraft there that they are flying missions. all of that tells you they're girding up here for a very important, i think, next phase of this. and they'll go around the united states, they'll go through the united states, or they'll do it with the united states. and i think that's the big decision the president's going to have to make, what role he wants to play there. by the way, lebanon, too, because of hezbollah, is now going to be in play for russian influence as well.
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so, they've done pretty well. pretty dramatic change of events in the last 24 months for sure about russian influence on the syrian debate. >> bobby, it's one thing for russian president putin to try to bolster the regime of bashar al assad and the same for the iranian leadership. they've had a close relationship with al assad for a long time. when i heard the egyptian president el sisi tell me in our interview, be careful what you wish for, because if assad's military goes down, a lot of that hardware -- we're seeing president obama walking into the united nations right now. these are live pictures with the first lady, michelle obama. they're going up the escalator. he'll be getting ready to deliver his address in a few moments. there he is at the united nations. when president el sisi says all that military syrian hardware could wind up in the hands of terrorists like isis, al nusra,
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al qaeda, maybe there's less inclination on some of these sunni arab leaders to see bashar al assad to go. >> it's very interesting, particularly interesting, because in some ways president sisi could be speaking about himself. he and assad have much in common. he often takes his sort of talking points from saudi arabia, as we know. saudi arabia continues to be quite recalcitrant on the subject of assad. i suspect there will be some phone calls and clarification sought. sisi was speaking, quite surprisingly, off the talking points saudi arabia has sort of been per sursuing for the last several months. >> he said basically you could deal -- you can live with, you can deal with the bashar al
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assad regime, you can deal with the rebels in syria. you can't deal with isis. you can't deal with the terrorists. you can't deal with extremism. and you can't let those weapons get into their hands. dan pfeiffer, walk us through the mission the president of the united states will have in coming minutes in this major address. >> sure. this is always one of the most important speeches the president gives. he has three audiences. the american people, of course, the leaders in the room and the people around the world. this is one of the speeches most covered in international media. it's one of the chances the president gets to speak to people in countries all over the world. it's an opportunity, even though the context differs every year, to talk about america's role in the world, america's values and how we view the challenges. this year in particular, syria is at the core of it. i expect the president will talk about climate change heading into paris next year, coming off the agreement the president made
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with china last year. this is one of the craziest weeks because the president goes from speech to bilateral meetings and i know the president has been working on this speech for a long time. >> dan, it's christiane. give us a little about the climate aspect of this speech because this is something president obama wants to make as one of his major legacies. of course, we're coming up to a big, big world leader summit in paris at the end of this year. >> i think the president will make the case that climate is a challenge, a global challenge. the world has to come together, much like united states and china did. we have an opportunity in paris to begin to build on the example the u.s. has with the carbon pollution rules the president put in place and begin to mobilize not just the eu and other developed countries but developing countries and why this is so important for the environment, public health and the economy in the long run.
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>> dan pfeiffer, thank you so much. all stand by for a while. we're going to take a short break and we'll be back, presumably, with the president at the podium. ♪ it's the final countdown! ♪ ♪ the final countdown! if you're the band europe,
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welcome back to our special coverage. we're standing by to hear the president of the united states. christiane amanpour are watching what's going on. the president of brazil wrapping up her address right now. >> worth pointing out, a very beleaguered president of brazil. she has a lot of problems at home. but this is a great platform, as it is for every leader, including the president of the yat. like to call it back to school agenda. they come back, beginning of the year, and they put out their
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agenda for the rest of the year and beyond. the main thing we're looking for is syria, climate change and other such matters. we're joined by michelle kozinski, jim sciutto and our distinguished panel. michelle, what is it that president obama and where is it president obama thinks he can find common ground with putin in syria that doesn't make putin feel like he's holding all the cards? >> the white house is saying they're looking for some common ground, maybe some coordination. just because they have that common goal of defeating isis, at least that's the stated goal of russia. you know, that's what their ultimately after. so, in that maybe there is some nugget of cooperation that russia could at least be a peripheral part of the coalition that president obama has put together. it's going to be difficult because now you see putin with his own plan, his own little coalition forming. and i think you're going to see that dichotomy. we're waiting for the main event. we're waiting to hear from obama. the world is also wanting to hear from putin.
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these will be dueling speeches about what the situation is in syria and what the world should do about it. die meeticly opposed. he's going to criticize what the american stance has been. you'll hear that from the president, too. behind the scenes, when you talk privately to senior administration officials, there's skepticism here as to what could come out of this meeting. you know, what good is there, what would the goal be. they're not even sure but they feel like it's time to give it a try. it's been a long time since these two had a discussion about anything. there's also ukraine out there. ukraine seems to have taken sort of a backseat to the situation in syria. >> the other issue, to be fair, a couple years ago from this podium the president called for and repeatedly called for assad's removal. you don't hear that anymore because the fact is, one, you survived. two, they see the dangers of assad falling at this point, just as russia does. you've seen administration goals change over that time period. something we know vladimir putin
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is very much aware of and probably taking advantage of. >> and the president rouhani told me in our interview that sh, including the u.s., the uk, not just iran and russia, assad's big backers, believe assad has to stay at least for the interim. the question is for how long and will there ever be a political resolution? >> let's remember, keep all of this in perspective. isis, syria, that will be a huge subject that the president of the united states will address. putin will address other world leaders. over the past few years, 200,000, maybe 300,000 people have been killed in syria. 7 million displaced persons internally. externally, the worst refugee crisis affecting the middle east, north africa, now europe, since world war ii. all of that will be coming up. so momentarily we'll hear from the president. the president of the general assembly speaking right now, getting ready to introduce the president of the united states. mike rogers, give us your
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thought right now. you're the former chairman of the house intelligence committee as we await president obama's important remarks. is there a bit of a walking away, as a lot of observers are now suspecting? maybe it's not necessary to remove bashar al assad so quickly given the terrorist grip that is engulfing syria and iraq, for that matter, right now? >> if you don't get an interim agreement to remove assad over time, that situation gets 100 times worse. these are conversations, actually, wolf, you and i had this conversation about two years ago about the limiting options. the longer the united states waited to try to get in and form that arab league coalition and actually take action against what was a growing threat in east syria, the fewer solutions that were available to them. right now i don't know if you'd find any serious national security participant tell you it would be good for assad to go away tomorrow, because there
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would be a fundamental collapse of that government. in that regard, i think putin is correct, and so is el sisi correct as well. >> he'll sit down now, the president of the united states as he's introduced at the united nations general assembly. the president has a very, very carefully crafted speech. as dan pfeiffer, his former aide, our cnn commentator, just told us, he's addressing the united nations. he's addressing the american people and he's addressing the world. here's the president. [ applause ] >> mr. president, mr. secretary-general, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, 70 years after the founding of the united nations, it is worth reflecting on what together the members of this body have helped
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to achieve. out of the ashes of the second world war, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the united states has worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war. by forging alliances with old adversaries, by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power, and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation. an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people. that is the work of seven decades.
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that is the ideal at this body at its best has pursued. of course, there have been too many times when collectively we have fallen short of these ideals. over seven decades terrible conflicts have claimed untold victims. but we have pressed forward slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent. it is this international order that is underwritten, unparalleled advances and human liberty and prosperity. it is this collective endeavor that's brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world's
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major powers and buttressed a global economy that has lifted more than a billion people from poverty. it is these international principles that have helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our will on smaller ones. and advanced the emergence of democracy and development and individual liberty on every continent. this progress is real. it can be documented in lives saved and agreements forged and diseases conquered and in mouths fed. and yet we come together today knowing that the march of human progress never travels in a straight line. that our work is far from complete. that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.
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today we see the collapse of strong men and fragile states breeding conflict and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an epic scale. brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum. technologies that empower individuals are now exploited by those who spread disinformation or suppress dissent or radicalize our youth. global capital flows that power growth and investment, but also increased risk. contagion, weakening the bargaining power of workers and accelerated inequality. how should we respond to these trends? there are those who argue that the ideals enshrined in the u.n.
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charter are unachievable or out of date. a legacy of a post-war era not suited to our own. effectively they argued for a return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that predate this institution. the belief that power is a zero sum game. that mite makes right. that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones. that rights of individuals don't matter and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force. on this basis we see some major powers assert themselves in way that contravene international law. we see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to
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this institution's mission. information is strictly controlled. the space for civil society restrict restricted. we're told that such retrenchment is required, to beat back disorder. that it's the only way to stamp out terrorism or prevent foreign meddling. in accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like bashar al assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children because the alternative is surely worse. the increasing skepticism of our international order can also be found in the most advanced democracies. we see greater polarization, more frequent gridlock, movements on the far right and sometimes the left, that insist
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on stopping the trade that binds our fates to other nations. calling for the building of walls to keep out immigrants. and most ominously we see the fears of ordinary people being exploited to fears of sectarianism or rapism or anti-semitism, appeals to a glorious past before the body politic was infected by those who look different or worship god differently. the politics of us versus them. the united states is not immune from this. even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from iraq and afghanistan, we see in our debates about america's role in the world. a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old
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enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising china or a resurgent russia, a revolutionary iran or islam that is incompatible with peace. we see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the united states is bellicose words and shows a military fo e force, that cooperation and diplomacy will not work. as president of the united states, i'm mindful of the da s dangers we face. they cross my desk every morning. i lead the strongest military that the world has ever known.
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and i will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies unilaterally and by force where necessary. but i stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. we cannot look back. we live in an integrated world. one in which we all have a stake in each other's success. we cannot turn back those forces of integration. no nation in this assembly can insulate itself from the threat of terrorism or the risk of financial contagion. the flow of migrants, or the danger of a warming planet. the disorder we see is not driven solely by competition
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between nations or any single ideology. and if we cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences. that is true for the united states as well. no matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand, the united states cannot solve the world's problems alone. and iraq, the united states learned the hard lesson, that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our treasury cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land. unless we work with other
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nations under the mantel of international norms and principle and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed. and unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary. and just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, i believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed. the history of the last two decades proves that in today's world, dictatorships are unstable. the strong men of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow. you can jail your opponents, but you can't imprison ideas. you can try to control access to
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information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth. it is not a conspiracy of u.s.-backed ngos that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe. it's technology, social media, and the irreducible desire for people to make their own choices in how they're governed. in today's world i believe the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory. lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials. the strength of nations depends on the success of their people. their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity, and that, in turn, depends on individual
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rights and good governance and personal security. internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation. politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or gingoism may at time look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed. history tells us the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure. our world has been there before. we gain nothing from going back. instead, i believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals.
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not abandon them at this critical time. we must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears. this institution was founded because men and women who came before us had the foresight to know that our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict. and strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order. let me give you a concrete example. after i took office, i made clear that one of the principle achievements of this body, the nuclear nonproliferation regime, was endangered by iran's violation of the ntp. on that basis, the security council tightened sanctions on
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the iranian government and many nations joined us to enforce them. together we showed that laws and agreements mean something. but we also understood that the goal of sanctions was not simply to punish iran. our objective was to test whether iran could change course, accept constraints and allow the world to verify that its nuclear program will be peaceful. for two years the united states and our partners, including russia, including china, stuck together in complex negotiations. the result is a lasting, comprehensive deal that prevents iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while allowing it to access peaceful energy. and if this deal is fully implemented, the prohibition on nuclear weapons is strengthened, a potential war is averted, our
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world is safer. that is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should. that same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world. consider russia's annexation of crimea and further aggression in eastern ukraine. america has few economic interests in ukraine. we recognize the deep and complex history between russia and ukraine. but we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is violated. that happens without consequence in ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.
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that's the basis of the sanctions that the united states and our partners impose on russia. it's not a desire to return to a cold war. now, within russia, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent russia. a view shared, by the way, by a number of u.s. politicians and xhen ta commentators, who have always been deeply skeptical of russia and seem to be convinced a new cold war is, in fact, upon us. look at the results. the ukrainian people are more interested than ever in aligning with europe instead of russia. sanctions have led to capital flight, a contracting economy, a fallen ruble. and the immigration of more educated russians.
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imagine if instead russia had engaged in true diplomacy and worked with ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected. that would be better for ukraine but also better for russia, and better for the world. which is why we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved. in a way that allows a sovereign and democratic ukraine to determine its future and control its territory. not because we want to isolate russia. we don't. but because we want a strong russia that's invested in working with us to strengthen the international system as a whole. similarly in the south china sea, the united states makes no claim on territory there. with don't adjudicate claims. but like every nation gathered
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here, we have an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resor resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force. so, we will defend these principles, while encouraging china and other claimants to resolve their differences peacefully. i say this recognizing that diplomacy is hard. that the outcomes are sometimes unsatisfying. that it's rarely politically popular. but i believe that leaders of large nations, in particular, have an obligation to take these risks. precisely because we're strong enough to protect our interests if and when diplomacy fails.
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i also believe that to move forward in this new era, we have to be strong enough to acknowledge when what you're doing is not working. for 50 years the united states pursued a cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the cuban people. we changed that. we continue to have differences with the cuban government. we'll continue to stand up for human rights, but we address these issues through diplomatic relations and increased commerce and people-to-people ties. as these contacts yield progress, i'm confident our congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore. [ applause ]
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change won't come overnight to cuba, but i'm confident that openness, not coercion, will support the reforms and better the life the cuban people deserve, just as i believe cuba will find its success if it pursues cooperation with other nations. now, if it's in the interest of major powers to uphold international standards, it is even more true for the rest of the community of nations. look around the world. from singapore to colombia, to senegal, the facts show that nations succeed when they pursue an inclusive piece and prosperity within their borders and work with countries beyond their borders. that path is now available to a
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nation like iran, which as of this moment continues to deploy violent proxies to advance its interests. these efforts may appear to give iran leverage in disputes with neighbors, but they fuel sectarian conflict that endangers the entire region and isolates iran from the promise of trade and commerce. the iranian people have a proud history. and are filled with extraordinary potential. but chanting "death to america" does not create jobs or make iran more secure. if iran chooses a different path, that would be good for the security of the region, good for the iranian people, and good for the world. of course, around the globe we'll continue to be confronted with nations who reject these lessons of history, places where
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civil strife and border disputes and sectarian wars bring about terrorist enclaves and humanitarian disasters. where order has completely broken down. we must act, but we will be stronger when we act together. in such efforts the united states will always do our part. we will do so mindful of the lessons of the past. not just the lessons of iraq, but also the examples of libya, where we joined an international coalition under a u.n. mandate to prevent a slaughter. even as we helped the libyan people bring an end to the reign have and should have done more d to fill a vacuum left behind. we're grateful to the united
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nations for its efforts to forge a unity government. we will help any legitimate libyan government as it works to bring the country together, but we also have to recognize that we must work more effectively in the future as an international community, to build capacity for states that are in distress before they collapse. that's why we should celebrate the fact that later today the united states will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities. infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals, and tens of thousands of troops to strengthen united nations peacekeeping. [ applause ] these new capabilities can prevent mass killing and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper.
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but we have to do it together. together bemuwe must strengthen collective capacity, to support those who seek a just and lasting peace. nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in syria. when a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation's internal affairs. it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that's not a single nation's national security problem. that is an assault on all our humanity.
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i've said before and i will repeat, there's no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like isil and the united states makes no apology for use our military as a broad coalition to go after them. we do so with the determination to ensure there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these krimsz. and we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists. but while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in syria. lasting stability can only take hold when the people of syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully. the united states is prepared to work with any nation, including russia and iran, to resolve the conflict.
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but we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much blood shed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo. let's remember how this started. assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing, that in turn created the environment for the current strife. and so assad and his allies can't simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminant bombing. yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out isil. but realism also requires a
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managed transition away from assad and to a new leader and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so the syrian people can begin to rebuild. we know that isil, which emerged out of the chaos of iraq and syria, depends on perpetual war to survive. but we also know that they gain adherence because of a poisonous ideology, so part of our job together is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people. part of that effort must be a continued rejection by muslims of those who distort islam to preach intolerance and promote violence, and it must also involve a rejection by non-muslims of the ignorance that equates islam with terrorists.
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[ applause ] this work will take time. there are no easy answers to syria and there are no simple answers to the changes that are taking place in much of the middle east and north africa. but so many families need help right now. they don't have time. and that's why the united states is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders. that's why we will continue to be the largest donor of assistance to support those refugees. and today we are launching new efforts to ensure that our people and our businesses, our universities and our ngos can help as well. because in the face of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves. of course, in the old ways of
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thinking, the plight of the powerless, the plight of the refuse gees refugees, didn't matter. they were on the periphery of the world's concerns. today our concern for them is driven not just by conscious but should also be driven by self-interest. for helping people who have been pushed to the margins of our world is not mere charity. it is a matter of collective security. and the purpose of this institution is not merely to avoid conflict, it is to gav galvanize the collective action that makes life better on this planet. the commitments we've made to the sustainable development goals speak to this truth. i believe that capitalism has been the greater creator of wealth and opportunity that the world has ever known. but from big cities to rural villages around the world, we also know prosperity is still
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cruelly out of reach for too many. as his holiness, pope francis, reminds us, we are stronger when we value the least among us and see them as equal in dignity to ourselves and our sons and our daughters. we can roll back preventable disease and end the scourge of hiv/aids, we can stamp out pandemics that recognize no borders. that work may not be on television right now, but as we demonstrated in reversing the spread of ebola, it can save more lives than anything we can do. together we can eradicate extreme poverty and erase barriers to opportunity, but this requires a sustained commitment to our people, so farmers can feed more people, to entrepreneurs can start a new business, so young people can
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have the skills they need to succeed in this modern knowledge-based economy. we can promote growth through trade that meets a higher standard, and that's what we're doing through the transpacific partner partnership, a trade agreement that encompasses nearly 20% of the global economy, opening markets while protecting the rights of workers and protecting the environment that enables development to be sustained. we can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies. and help economies lift people out of poverty without condemning our children to the ravages of an ever-warming climate. the same ingenuity that produced the industrial age and the computer age allows us to harness the potential of clean energy. no country can escape the ravages of climate change. there's no stronger sign of leadership than putting future generations first.
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the united states will work with every nation that is willing to do its part so that we can come together in paris to decisively confront this challenge. and finally, our vision for the future of this assembly, my belief in moving forward rather than backwards, requires us to defend the democratic principles that allow societies to succeed. let me start from a simple premise, ka tacatastrophes likee seeing in syria do not take place in countries where they're universal democracy and the values this institution is supposed to defend. [ applause ]
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i recognize democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world. the very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences. but some universal truths are self-evident. no person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship. no woman should ever be abused with impunity or a girl barred from going to school. the freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws. these are not ideas of one country or one culture. they are fundamental to human progress. they are a cornerstone of this institution.
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i realize that in many parts of the world there's a different view. a belief that strong leadership must tolerate no dissent. i hear it not only from america's adversaries but privately i hear it from some of our friends. i disagree. i believe a government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength. it is showing weakness and it is showing fear. history shows -- [ applause ] history shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble. but strong institutions built on the consent of the government endure long after any one individual is gone. that's why our strongest leaders, from georgia washington
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to nelson mandela, have elevated the importance of building strong, democratic institutions over a thirst for perpetual power. leaders who amend constitutions to stay in office only acknowledge they failed to build a successful country for their people. because none of us last forever. it tells us that power is something they cling to for its own sake rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve. i understand democracy is frustrating. democracy in the united states is certainly imperfect. at times it can be dysfunctional. but democracy, the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice, is what allowed
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us to become the most powerful nation in the world. [ applause ] it's not simply a matter of principle. it's not an abstraction. democracy, inclusive democracy, makes countries stronger. when opposition parties can seek power peacefully through the ballot, a country draws upon new ideas. when a free media can inform the public, corruption and abuse are exposed and can be rooted out. when civil society thrives, communities can solve problems that governments cannot necessarily solve alone. when immigrants are welcomed, countries are more productive and more vibrant. when girls can go to school and get a job and pursue unlimited opportunity, that's when a country realizes its full potential. [ applause ]
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that is what i believe is america's greatest strength. not everybody in america agrees with me. that's part of democracy. i believe that the fact that you can walk the streets of this city right now and pass churches and synagogues and temples and mosques, where people worship freely, the fact that our nation of immigrants mirrors the diversity of the world, you can find everybody from everywhere here in new york city, the fact that in this country everybody can contribute. everybody can participate no matter who they are or what they look like or who they love. that's what makes us strong. and i believe that what is true for america is stru ftrue for a is true for virtually all mature
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democracies. that is no accident. we can be proud of our nations without defining ourselves in opposition to some other group. we can be patriotic without demonizing someone else. we can cherish our own identities, our ethnicities, our religions, our traditions, without putting others down. our systems are premised on the notion that absolute power will corrupt. but that people, ordinary people, are fundamentally good. that they value family and friendship, faith, and the dignity of hard work. and that with appropriate checks and balances, governments can reflect this goodness. i believe that's the future we must seek together, to believe in the dignity of every individual, to believe we can bridge our differences, and
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choose cooperation over conflict. that is not weakness. that is strength. [ applause ] it is a practical necessary in this interconnected world. and our people understand this. think of the liberian doctor who went door to door to search for ebola cases and told families what to do if they showed symptoms. think of the iranian shopkeeper who said after the nuclear deal, god willing, now we'll be able to offer many more goods at better prices. think of the americans who lowered the flag over our embassy in havana in 1961, the year i was born, and returned this summer to raise that flag back up. [ applause ]
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one of these men said of the cuban people, we could do things for them and we could do things for us. we love them. for 50 years, we ignored that fact. think of the families leaving everything they've known behind, risking barren deserts and stormy waters, just to find shelter, just to save their children. one syrian refugee who was greeted in hamburg with warm greetings and shelter said, we feel there are still some people who love other people. the people of our united nations are not as different as they are told. they can be made to fear, they
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can be taught to hate, but they can also respond to hope. history is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires. who believed that might always makes right. and that will continue to be the case. you can count on that. but we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership. leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity. and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal. that's what those who shaped the united nations 70 years ago understood. let us carry forward that faith into the future. for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter. for my children and for yours.
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thank you very much. [ applause ] >> the president of the united states delivering about a 45-minute address before the united nations. addressing the world on critically important issues. christiane amanpour, making a very, very strong, powerful case that diplomacy as opposed to military action should be the key right now to resolving so many of these tragedies that are unfolding. >> that's right. he made an impassioned plea saying that, you know, cooperation over conflict is not weakness, it is strength. he talked about syria, saying we are not opposed to diplomacy, even with russia and iran. however, defeating isis does not mean returning to the status quo. you cannot have somebody like bashar al assad, he says, who

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