US President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered a stern message to global leaders to work together to solve the world’s most pressing problems in his maiden speech to UN General Assembly.
“Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone,” Obama said after receiving warm applause from some 120 heads of state and government.
“Because the time has come for the world to move in a new direction,” he said.
With Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also due to speak, Obama addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time since he moved into the White House in January.
After Obama left the stage the assembly began hearing from Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi — for the first time in his 40 years in power.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon opened the debate and set the tone calling for “genuine” collective action to roll back climate change as well as global poverty and push for nuclear disarmament.
“If ever there were a time to act in a spirit of renewed multilateralism -- a moment to create a United Nations of genuine collective action -- it is now,” Ban told the assembly.
But all eyes were on Obama who has vowed a close partnership with the UN after the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush, was accused of riding roughshod over the 192-member body.
And the US leader had some sharp words for the United Nations, saying “sadly, but not surprisingly, this body has often become a forum for sowing discord instead of forging common ground.