The conflict in Syria, the juxtaposition of free speech and religion and institutional reform are the three main themes under discussion at the 67th UN General Assembly in New York.
With the recent killing of the US ambassador to Libya clearly still in his thoughts, the US President urged leaders at the opening session to push for an end to intolerance and violence.
But Barack Obama still had stern words for Iran: “Just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad. Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear programme is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations”
In his speech to the 193-nation assembly, the Emir of Qatar said it was time for Arab nations to intervene militarily in Syria.
Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told delegates all the options tried so far have been in vain. “The Security Council has failed to reach an effective position and so I think it would be better for the Arab countries themselves to get involved, in line with their national, humanitarian and military responsibilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, at a philanthropic meeting on the sidelines of the general assembly gathering, Egypt’s new president called for genuine cooperation between cultures.
But in the wake of violent protests in the Muslim world over Western depictions of the Prophet Mohamed, Mohamed Mursi warned that a joke in one culture may be interpreted differently in another.