x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Obama: Don't expect America to fix it all

US president Barack Obama tells the UN General Assembly the US can't solve global problems alone.

NEW YORK // President Barack Obama has told the world's leaders the United States can't solve global problems alone, warning the world's leaders that many dire challenges must be addressed jointly by the global community. "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility," Mr Obama said in a passage from a speech he was delivering today to the United Nations General Assembly. It is Mr Obama's first address to the world body, and he is seeking to set a new tone in US relations - one that separates his administration from the unilateralism of his predecessor, George W Bush, which alienated many nations.

While Mr Obama continues to be popular around the world, he has struggled with many international issues, including the war in Afghanistan, negotiating peace between Israelis and Palestinians and winning passage of climate change legislation ahead of a global conference in December. The speech came one day before Mr Obama hosts a two-day meeting of the world's major economies in Pittsburgh, where he is likely to encounter resistance to his proposals aimed at correcting global imbalances that many believe contributed to the worldwide recession.

"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," Mr Obama said in excerpts released by the White House that carried a remarkably blunt tone. In essence, Mr Obama's message is that he expects plenty in return for reaching out. "We have sought in word and deed a new era of engagement with the world," Mr Obama said, echoing the co-operative theme he promised as a candidate and has since used as a pillar of his foreign policy.

He said if the world is honest with itself, it has fallen woefully short. "Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world," Mr Obama said. "Protracted conflicts that grind on and on. Genocide and mass atrocities. More and more nations with nuclear weapons. Melting ice caps and ravaged populations. Persistent poverty and pandemic disease." The president added: "I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: the magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our action."

Mr Obama's speech is the centrepiece of a day in which he was also holding pivotal meetings with the new Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. *AP