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Nations engaged in 'proxy wars' must end them, says Barack Obama in UNGA address

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked nations engaged in proxy wars to end them, warning that if communities are not allowed to co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn.

India TV News Desk, United Nations [ Updated: September 20, 2016 23:20 IST ]
US President Barack Obama
Image Source : AP US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked nations engaged in "proxy wars" to end them, warning that if communities are not allowed to co-exist, the "embers of extremism will continue to burn" causing sufferings to countless human beings and export of extremism overseas. 

His remarks came amid the efforts by India to isolate Pakistan which New Delhi holds responsible for attack on Uri army base on Sunday in which 18 soldiers were killed by heavily armed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists. 

The attack is one of the deadliest on the Indian Army in recent years.

In his eighth and final address to the UN General Assembly as the US President, Obama admitted that the extremist and sectarian violence destabilising the Middle East and spreading elsewhere "will not be quickly reversed."

"No external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long," Obama told the world leaders gathered here for the 71st UN General Assembly session. 

"Until basic questions are answered about how communities co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn.

Countless human beings will suffer and extremism will continue to be exported overseas," he warned. 

"Across-the-regions conflicts, we have to insist that all parties recognise a common humanity and the nations end proxy wars that fuel disorders," he said. 

“We must reject the fundamentalism...instead we need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect for all human beings,” Obama said. 

India accuses Pakistan of waging a proxy war by supporting, arming and training militant groups like Jaish-e- Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba who launch cross border attacks. 

18 soldiers were killed by heavily Pakistan-based terrorists who stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in Kashmir's Uri town early Sunday. 

Obama's remarks a day after his Secretary of State John Kerry asked Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to prevent terrorists from using his country's territory as safe havens. 

Nawaz Sharif  is scheduled to address UNGA tomorrow where he is expected to raise the issue of violence in Jammu and Kashmir that has continued since the killing of Hijbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. 

In his speech, Obama recounted the progress made in the last eight years of his presidency and said "from the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our times we coordinated a response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth." 

"We have taken away terroristsafe havens, strengthened the non-proliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy. We opened relations with Cuba...And we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly," he said.

Obama said that the international community must reject any forms of fundamentalism, racism or a belief in ethnic superiority that makes our traditional identities irreconcilable with modernity. 

"Instead we need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect of all human beings," he said. 

He said the collapse of colonialism and communism has allowed more people than ever before to live with the freedom to choose their leaders. 

"Despite the real and troubling areas where freedom appears in retreat, the fact remains that the number of democracies around the world has nearly doubled in the last 25 years," he said. 

The US President accused his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of trying to recover power through force. 

"In a world that left the age of Empire behind, we see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force, Asian powers debate competing claims of history. There is no easy answer to resolving all these social forces," he said. 

"If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbours, it may be popular at home, it may fuel nationalist fervour for a time, but over time it is also going to diminish its stature and make its borders less secure," he said. 

Obama said that in the South China Sea, a peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarisation of a few rocks and reefs. 

"We are all stakeholders in this international system, and it calls upon all of us to invest in the success of institutions to which we belong. And the good news is, is that many nations have shown what kind of progress is possible when we make those commitments," he said. 

Obama urged the world leaders to bring the Paris climate change deal into force as soon as possible, saying "If we don't act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations and cities submerged and nations displaced and food supplies decimated and conflicted born of despair." 

On the Syrian crisis, Obama insisted that diplomacy is the only way to end the brutal five-year conflict. 

"There's no ultimate military victory to be won, we're going to have to pursue the hard work of the diplomacy that aims to stop the violence," he said. 

He also called for the international community to step up aid for refugees, saying "We have to open our hearts and do more to help refugees who are desperate for a home."

On North Korea's recent move to test nuclear bomb, Obama said such steps "endangers all of us" and any country that endangers global security must face consequences. 

"Those nations with these weapons, like the United States, have a unique responsibility to pursue the path of reducing our stockpiles, and reaffirming basic norms like the commitment to never test them again," he added. 

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