September 28th, 2012
05:43 PM ET

"Friends of Syria" group meets to help Syrian opposition

Key nations of the "Friends of Syria" group met in New York Friday to strategize, once again, on how to give more help to the Syrian opposition. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced another $15 million in aid, for a total of almost $45 million, for what she called the "unarmed opposition."

September 27th, 2012
11:09 PM ET

Netanyahu asks U.N. to draw 'red line' on Iran's nuclear bomb plans

By Michael Martinez

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exhorted the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday to draw "a clear red line" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

In a theatrical gesture, Netanyahu held up a cartoon-like drawing of a spherical bomb and drew a red line below the fuse, "before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a bomb," he said.

"It's not a question of whether Iran will get the bomb. The question is at what stage can we stop Iran from getting the bomb," said Netanyahu, who also accused Iran of aggression.

"I ask, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons," the Israeli prime minister said. "Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?"

Click here for the full story.

September 26th, 2012
05:52 PM ET

Iranian president accuses West of intimidation in U.N address

By David Ariosto

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation was committed to peace and accused world powers of double standards in pursuing an arms race, as he took to the stage Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly.

His address on day two of the general debate was widely expected to prove contentious, given the Iranian leader's history of controversial statements, but he made no mention of Israel.

At times, his remarks seemed almost conciliatory.

Speaking from the assembly's iconic green marble podium, Ahmadinejad told delegates that Iran has a "global vision and welcomes any effort intended to provide and promote peace, stability and tranquility" in the world.

However, an "arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent," he said, and Iran finds itself under threat from world powers seeking to impose their views.

"Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality," he said. "A state of mistrust has cast its shadow on the international relations, while there is no trusted or just authority to help resolve world conflicts."

It was the Iranian president's eighth and final address to the assembly, with his final term in office coming to an end next year.

As Ahmadinejad spoke, the place set aside for the U.S. delegation was empty. The Canadian delegation also did not attend the speech, and Israel's representatives were absent in observance of Yom Kippur.

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A viewer's guide to the U.N. General Assembly
September 23rd, 2012
06:04 PM ET

A viewer's guide to the U.N. General Assembly

By Joe Vaccarello

World leaders flock to the United Nations this week for the 67th annual session of the General Assembly.

The general debate is expected to draw participation from 116 heads of state and government leaders. Foreign ministers and other government representatives will fill out the rest of the attendance roster of the 193-member world body.

While the focus is usually on the leaders' speeches in the General Assembly hall, there will be a lot of activity happening inside and outside the U.N. complex with high-level meetings and bi-lateral country to country talks.

Here's a guide to what to look for:


Filed under: Egypt • Iran • Israel • Obama • Palestine • Syria • UN General Assembly
DEBATE PREP:  Money talks at the United Nations
United Nations General Assembly
November 11th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Money talks at the United Nations

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By The Heritage Foundations Brett Schaefer and James Phillips, Special to CNN

The U.S. is far and away the major financial backer of the United Nations. Yet the world body often embraces resolutions and policies at odds with American positions and interests. Should the U.S. exercise its “power of the purse” to influence the U.N.?

On occasion, the U.S. has done just that, withholding contributions to express its extreme displeasure with actions taken in Turtle Bay. But the Obama administration rejected this tactic early on. Instead, in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama proudly announced a “new era of engagement” with the U.N. President Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, likewise considers withholding to be a practice that is “fundamentally flawed in concept and practice, sets us back, is self-defeating, and doesn’t work.”

So how’s that working? The Palestinian Authority’s recent doings in Turtle Bay are instructive.


Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Israel • Obama • Palestine • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum • State Department • UN General Assembly • UN Security Council • UNESCO • United Nations
September 25th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Behind the scenes: Secretary Clinton's motorcade

CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott takes you inside Secretary of State Clinton's motorcade.

September 22nd, 2011
11:46 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Behind-the-scenes with State Department's UN operations: Part 2

In the second part of CNN's exclusive behind-the scenes look at the State Department's operations at  the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott shows us the detailed preparations that go into setting up a photo opportunity between the Secretary of State and a foreign diplomat.

Abbas to give Obama time
September 21st, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Abbas to give Obama time

From Sr. State Dept Producer Elise Labott reporting from the UN General Assembly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to tell President Obama during their one-on-one meeting today that he will deliver a letter to the UN Security Council seeking statehood but will not expect  the United Nations to act immediately, Palestinian officials tell CNN.  The officials say Abbas would deliver the letter sometime before he leaves the U.S. on Friday.

The officials say Abbas plans to give the UN and U.S. several weeks to respond to the letter—temporarily averting a diplomatic showdown.  Abbas will wait for a response from the Quartet, the officials tell CNN and sometime thereafter is likely to go back to the UN General Assembly to negotiate statehood, working through the UN Security Council.

The goal is to pressure a vote by the UN General Assembly legitimizing Palestinian statehood.

September 20th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Behind-the-scenes with State Department's U.N. operations

By Jamie Crawford and Elise Labott reporting from the UN General Assembly

She may be out of Washington and on the road for the week, but the heavy machinery of office has followed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to New York as she attends the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings.

To be sure, the secretary always has a traveling staff with her wherever she may be in the world. But UNGA, with its hundreds of diplomats, ministers and heads of state converging on New York every September, is a much different animal from a trip to a world capitol.  Basically, Foggy Bottom moves up to the Big Apple and sets up a mini-State Department on the 24th floor of the Waldorf Astoria.

CNN was granted rare and exclusive access to this massive operation, one that involves hundreds of employees, planeloads full of equipment and a ton of coffee.

As we exited the elevator on the 24th floor, it became clear this was indeed a secure work space, with numerous Diplomatic Security guards and several signs reminding staff not to discuss classified information in the hallways.

It seemed as if U.S. foreign policy hadn't skipped a beat despite being a few hundred miles removed from home base. With the beds in each room removed (though the head boards where still bolted to the wall), the rooms have been transformed into working offices with secure telephone lines, computers, fax machines and all of the equipment needed to do the job of executing the nation's diplomacy.

As we were escorted down one of the halls, Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, the department's chief of protocol, was working with her staff to prepare for what was already shaping up to be an marathon of a week. Marshall's office is responsible for advising on matters of international diplomatic protocol, making sure the right atmosphere is created for conducting diplomacy. FULL POST

Trying to head off a vote on Palestinian statehood
September 20th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Trying to head off a vote on Palestinian statehood

By Sr. State Department Producer Elise Labott reporting from the UN General Assembly

The international community is working on a package of initiatives to avoid a diplomatic showdown over Palestinian statehood at the U.N. Security Council this week.

While there are a number of ideas in play, senior U.S., European, Israeli and Palestinian officials have told CNN they center around Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivering a letter to the Security Council seeking full Palestinian statehood, but not forcing a Council vote.

The Security Council letter would be paired with a statement by the Mideast Quartet laying out the terms of reference to re-launch peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the officials said. The quartet is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday night in an effort to get Russian to buy into the plan.

Quartet envoys will meet for a third day Tuesday afternoon to work on the text. The core elements include a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps, recognition of two states for two peoples - the Palestinians and the Jewish people - and a time line for a peace deal, diplomats said.

The officials said a package deal could enable Abbas to claim victory by going to the Security Council, but would not force a confrontation with the United States, which has promised to veto any statehood resolution which comes before the Council. FULL POST

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