Obama says diplomatic path toward Iran must be tested

UNITED NATIONS Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:50am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that there should be a basis for an agreement on Iran's nuclear ambitions but that the roadblocks will be difficult to overcome.

In an address laying out U.S. policy toward the volatile Middle East and North Africa, Obama made clear that the United States will take direct action to eliminate threats when necessary and will use military force when diplomacy fails.

Obama, in closely watched remarks on Iran based on a diplomatic opening offered by Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, said the United States wants to resolve the Iran nuclear issue peacefully but is determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

"The roadblocks may prove to be too great but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said.

He urged the U.N. Security Council to approve a strong resolution aimed at ensuring Syria keeps its commitments to give up chemical weapons and said the United States will provide an additional $340 million in humanitarian aid.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)