After President Barack Obama breathlessly addressed four different foreign-policy issues during a 10-minute statement, he summed up the state of a crisis-filled world in one sentence.
“We live in a complex world and at a challenging time,” Obama said.
Obama touched on the laundry list of global flashpoints situations during a statement from the White House on Wednesday — the disputed elections in Afghanistan, the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and, finally, the conflict in Ukraine.
The most significant recent development in these situations was the announcement of new sanctions on Russia shortly before the president spoke. Obama described those sanctions as part of continued efforts to penalise Russia for destabilizing the new Ukrainian government by supporting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country. He said he made clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin, or as Obama said, “Mr. Putin,” the need for concrete actions.
“We have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia is in fact committed to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border,” Obama said.
But Obama spent more than half of a statement billed for the sanctions addressing other foreign-policy quagmires. On Iranian nuclear negotiations, he said the five world powers and Iran may need more time beyond a July 20 deadline to work out a deal on the country’s nuclear program.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama said the U.S. would continue to look toward all diplomatic options to produce a ceasefire — hopefully within the next day. He quickly added Israel “has the right to defend itself” from a barrage of rocket attacks.
Obama opened his statement by commending Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped break an election impasse in Afghanistan between its two presidential candidates that threatened to spiral the country out of control. However, the president pointed out that, as soon as one crisis was at least temporarily defused, more remain.
“None of these challenges lend themselves to quick or easy solutions, but all of them require American leadership,” Obama said. “I’m confident if we stay patient and determined that we will, in fact, meet these challenges.”
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