US President Barack Obama urged world leaders Tuesday to "speak out forcefully against violence and extremism" that has ignited violent protests over an anti-Muslim internet video, while also warning Iran that time was running out to resolve the dispute over its nuclear programme, dpa reported.
"It is time to marginalize those who - even when not resorting to violence - use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics," he told the UN General Assembly in New York. "For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes excuses, for those who resort to violence."
Obama vowed the United States "will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," stressing time was "not unlimited," even as opportunities remain for a diplomatic solution.
"Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy," Obama said. "It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke indirectly earlier Tuesday about the ongoing threats between Iran and Israel, noting the UN is opposed to "both the language of delegitimization and threats of potential military action by one country against another."
Without naming the countries involved, he told the UN General Assembly that any such attacks would be "devastating."
"The shrill war talk of recent weeks has been alarming - and should remind us of the need for peaceful solutions and full respect for the UN Charter and international law," he said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel and denied its legitimacy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to attack Iran's nuclear sites, alleging that Iran's disputed nuclear weapon capability is threatening Israel. Both leaders will address the 193-nation assembly later this week.
Obama focused heavily in his 30-minute speech on the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this month and on the outrage over the video produced in the United States that has led to violent protests across the Arab world. Obama called the video "crude and disgusting" but defended the principles of free speech and expression enshrined in the US constitution.
Obama said the global community must address the roots of the violence as "we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes that we hold in common."
"A politics based only on anger - one based on dividing the world between us and them - not only sets back international cooperation, it ultimately undermines those who tolerate it," he said. "All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces."
The future should not be determined by violence and intolerance, but by those like US ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed while working for a better Libya, he said.
"But understand the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America," Obama said. "They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded - the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that, in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens."
Obama also called for the international body to remain engaged in ending the violence in Syria and said the regime of President Bashar al-Assad must end. He spoke briefly of the Middle East peace process, noting the need for "a Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine."
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, the first leader to address the assembly, said the government in Syria bears the "largest share of responsibility" in the continuing violence in the country, affecting particularly women and children.