World leaders plead their cases at United Nations
President Barack Obama chairs the U.N. Security Council summit on Thursday, the first U.S. president to do so. (Photo: AP)
Leaders from across the globe — both allies and adversaries of the U.S. — made their pitches before the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
Nuclear weapons, the failing world economy and peaceful relations were the most talked-about topics, and even the most reviled leaders had civil words for President Barack Obama. The day, however, wasn’t without theatrics.
Here’s a look at what some representatives said:
Barack Obama, U.S.He declared that the burden of creating a better world, one free from nukes and full of economic opportunity, should not be solely a U.S. responsibility.
Distancing himself from his predecessor, Obama urged multilateralism in a new era.
“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,” he said, later adding, “Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles.”
Obama also referenced his Mideast meeting with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders, emphasizing that the Palestinians have legitimate rights and that Israel must recognize them amid U.S. commitment to its security.
Moammar Gadhafi, Libya
In an address that lasted 96 rambling minutes, the leader formerly ostracized for harboring terrorists used his first appearance to blame the U.N. for failing to prevent 65 wars since its founding.
Fumbling with pages of handwritten notes and tearing the U.N. Charter, Gadhafi criticized the veto-wielding countries of the U.N. Security Council, calling it the “terror council” and saying it misrepresents developing nations.
The African leader, however, did have compliments for Obama, calling him “our son.”
Nicolas Sarkozy, France
Sarkozy focused on economic improvements on the world stage, slamming “the behavior of those who still continue to grow indecently rich, after leading the world to the brink of disaster.”
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia
In his first showing at the U.N., the Russian leader appeared to step out from Vladimir Putin’s shadow. He praised the Obama administration’s recent scrapping of missile defense plans in Eastern Europe. The proposed shield had worn at Russian-U.S. relations.
Medvedev sidestepped discussion about curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but earlier hinted at supporting new sanctions against the rogue nation.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran
The U.S. delegation walked out on his speech, but Ahmadinejad perhaps was encouraged by Obama’s willingness to engage him and said he would “shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us.”
Widely condemned for his anti-Israel rhetoric, he assailed the Jewish state for what he said was a “barbaric” attack on the Gaza Strip last winter.