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Videos don't justify Middle East violence, Obama to tell U.N.

September 25, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey

President Obama will condemn the anti-American protests that spread across the Middle East and urge other nations to reject intolerance in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

"The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded,” Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks released in advance.

“If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis. Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common.”

The excerpts released by the White House don’t indicate whether the president will identify any deeper causes of that violence, which erupted in several cities partly in response to an anti-Islamic video that was made in the U.S. and posted on YouTube.

U.S. officials say outrage over the film played a role in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy,” the president will say, according to the excerpts. “There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan."

“Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations."

Obama's remarks largely echo his previous statements on the demonstrations and the disaster in Benghazi.

Similarly, he plans to repeat his by-now familiar position opposing any efforts by Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

"America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited,” the excerpts said.

“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. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the nonproliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Obama is scheduled to address the U.N. Tuesday morning in a quick visit to New York for the annual meeting. The president’s speedy trip to the U.N. – he has no formal meetings with world leaders on his schedule – has critics claiming he is shirking his responsibilities in order to keep to a rigorous campaign schedule.

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Kathleen.Hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey

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