India a thriving democracy: President Obama

Ahead of his landmark visit in early November, President Barack Obama described India as a "thriving democracy" which peacefully overthrew colonialism.

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2010, 00:32 AM IST

United Nations: Ahead of his landmark
visit in early November, President Barack Obama today
described India as a "thriving democracy" which peacefully
overthrew colonialism.

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"I will visit India, which peacefully threw off
colonialism and established a thriving democracy of over a
billion people," Obama told world leaders at the annual debate
of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Underlining the importance of democracy, Obama said
there is no right more fundamental than the ability to choose
your leaders and determine your destiny.

"Make no mistake: the ultimate success of democracy in
the world won`t come because the United States dictates it; it
will come because individual citizens demand a say in how they
are governed," he said, while addressing the annual session of
the UN General Assembly.

Noting that democracy reflected the "uniqueness" of a
country, Obama also praised state of democracy in Indonesia
where he plans to visit in November.

"I will continue to Indonesia, the world`s largest
Muslim-majority country, which binds together thousands of
islands through the glue of representative government and
civil society," he added.

Turning to the Middle East, Obama pointed out that the
conflict between Israelis and Arabs was as old as the UN, and
the international community could turn up the next year at the
same debate and make the same speeches.

"Or, we can say that this time will be different -
that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or
posturing, or petty politics stand in the way," he said.
"If we do, when we come back here next year, we can
have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United
Nations - an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living
in peace with Israel."

On the issue of Iran`s nuclear programme, Obama said
that the doors of diplomacy were open and urged Iran to walk
through it and seek a resolution.

"But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear
and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful
intent of its nuclear programme," he said.

Iran`s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to
speak later today.

Turning to the problem of al-Qaeda, Obama said that
while the US was drawing down in Iraq, it was shifting all its
focus on Afghanistan and battling the terrorists and militants
who had sought refuge in its wild terrain.

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"Our allies are pursuing a strategy to break the
Taliban`s momentum and build the capacity of Afghanistan`s
government and Security Forces, so that a transition to Afghan
responsibility can begin next July," the president said.
"And from South Asia to the Horn of Africa, we are
moving toward a more targeted approach- one that strengthens
our partners, and dismantles terrorist networks without
deploying large American armies," he added.

Obama spoke very little on the issue of climate change
but underlined that "all major economies" needed to do more
for reducing carbon emissions.

"We will support a process in which all major
economies meet our responsibilities to protect our planet,
while unleashing the power of clean energy to serve as an
engine of growth and development," he said.

Pointing out that his top priority was helping the
American people out of the economic recession, Obama said that
international coordination through the G20 and broader global
cooperation had led to a world that had avoided a depression.

"There is much to show for our efforts, even as there
is much more work to be done. The global economy has been
pulled back from the brink of a depression, and is growing
once more," he said.

We have resisted protectionism, and are exploring ways
to expand trade and commerce among nations, the US president
said.

"But we cannot - and will not - rest until these seeds
of progress grow into a broader prosperity, for all Americans,
and for people around the globe," he added.

PTI