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U.N. General Assembly Annual Meeting Begins; Iranian President Reaching out to U.S.

Aired September 24, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: This Tuesday on CNN STUDENT NEWS we start with a riddle. What group has less than 200 members, but represents more than 6 billion people? It was founded in 1945, its headquarters is in New York City. We are talking about the United Nations, and this week is a big one for the international organization. Representatives from most of the U.N.`s member countries are coming in New York for the annual session of the General Assembly. It will be a week of speeches, debate and diplomacy. Before we get too far in some of the subjects that might be discussed, here some fast facts on the General Assembly itself.


ANNOUNCER: Just the facts: The General Assembly is one of the main bodies of the United Nations. All of the U.N. 193 members are represented in the General Assembly. It`s the organization`s main policy making group, but the General Assembly`s decisions are not legally binding. The assembly`s regular annual session begins on the third Tuesday in September.


AZUZ: The civil war in Syria is likely to come up. In speeches to the General Assembly, that country gave an initial list of its chemical weapons last week as part of the deal proposed by the U.S and Russia. There`s also speculation about whether American and Iranian leaders might meet this week. Those two nations have a tense history. In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, that`s the capital of Iran. They held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. In 1984, the U.S. government declared that Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism.

In recent years, Iran`s nuclear program has caused controversy. The U.S. and other countries believe Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. He was elected this year, and he appears to be reaching out to the U.S.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A tough high-stakes call this week for Barack Obama at the U.N. Should he take a bold gamble and try and meet with the new president of a state that is pretty much against everything the U.S. stands for -- Iran. After decades of animosity, America, the great Satan to Iran, and Iran, part of the U.S.`s old axis of evil, that may be a thaw afoot.

As if to set that new tone, a very public invitation to meet came from Iran`s president on twitter. Hassan Rouhani said Sunday, he was ready for dialogue without preconditions.

While no meeting has been set, the White House is clear it may be time to talk, if Iran is serious about giving up the desire of the U.S. says it has to make a nuclear bomb. Since he took office, Obama said, he would welcome diplomacy with Iran.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will extend the hand, if you`re willing to unclench your fist.

WALSH: But there are many, including U.S. ally Israel that question who sincere Iran`s diplomatic overture is. And remind Washington of how just one year ago with the U.N. General Assembly, Iran`s last President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, railed against the U.S. and Israel.

There`s been very limited diplomacy between Washington and Tehran since the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in1979. But sanctions haven`t yet forced Iran to drop its nuclear program and the clock is ticking. Is Iran cracking under international pressure or playing for time -- that will be tough to answer even if Obama`s bold enough to meet this man. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, New York.


AZUZ: Yesterday, we told you about a terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Gunmen from the extremist Islamic group al Shabab attacked the mall on Saturday. It turned into a standoff, and gunfire between the terrorist and Kenyan security forces, occasionally sent aid workers and journalists running for cover.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that more gunfire? OK. Can we have the helmet? Where is the helmet?



AZUZ: As day turned into night in Nairobi on Monday, it wasn`t clear whether there were any hostages still inside. Authorities were planning to continue their sweep of the mall today.

Moving over to Pakistan, where the country`s small Christian population is reacting to an attack on a church in the city of Peshawar. Pakistan is home to Iran 193 million people. Less than three percent of that population is Christian. On Sunday, hundreds of them were the target of terrorists. About 500 people were attending services at All Saints Church, when two suicide bombers attacked. They killed at least 81 people, 120 others were wounded.

This is one of the deadliest attacks ever on the Christian community in Pakistan. When the All Saints Church was built 130 years ago, it was designed to resemble a mosque, not for security reason, but as a display of unity with Pakistan`s majority Muslim population. The Christian bishop in Peshawar called Sundays attack "a total failure of Pakistani officials` efforts to protect the country`s minorities."

Our next story takes us to Europe, for the results of Germany`s national election. In Germany, voters cast their ballots for members of parliament. Those members then vote for chancellor, the leader, the person who runs Germany`s government. So, the chancellor is usually from the party that wins the most sits in parliament.

This is Germany`s current chancellor, Angela Merkel. Her party won the most votes on Sunday, didn`t win a majority, so it will form a coalition with other parties, but the victory did earn Merkel a third term as chancellor.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Angela Merkel`s supporters celebrated well into the night with a life band here, at the Christian Democratic Union`s headquarters. There was a landslide victory for her Christian Democratic Union, which many politicians of this party say, was down to Angela Merkel more than it was down to the party. Nevertheless, the chancellor came out very early and claimed victory.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (via translator): And the next four years together we will do everything, there are going to be successful years for Germany. We`ll wait for the final results. It`s too early to say what`s going to happen. We`re going to be tomorrow in our committees when we know the final results, but be happy and have a party today, because we did really well.

PLEITGEN: This victory shows that Angela Merkel has reached many voters here in Germany to become more popular than she ever has been before, and she got one of the best results for the Christian Democratic Union since the end of the Cold War.

Now, one of the big questions is going to be what the next coalition is going to look like. Right now, it looks as though it`s going to be a grand coalition between the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats, but a big victory for Angela Merkel that was celebrated here for a very, very long time. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


AZUZ: Centennial, Keystone, Sunshine, those are the states we`re hitting in today`s "Roll Call." Which schools made the map -- let`s find out. In Colorado, we`ve got the Lyons from Lyons Middle Senior High School. I hope you guys were doing all right out there. Over in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, the Hershey High Trojans made today`s roll call. And down in Orlando, Florida, say hello to the Grenadiers from Colonial High School.


ANNOUNCER: It`s time for the "Shoutout." Starbucks is named after a character in what novel. If you think you know it, then shout it out. Is it the "Hitchhiker`s Guide to the Galaxy", "Brave New World," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" or "Moby Dick"? You`ve got three seconds, go!

The name Starbucks was inspired by Starbuck, the first mate in "Moby Dick." That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: At we asked what viewers thought of Starbucks request for customers not to bring guns into the store, even though store policy allows that where it`s legal. Matt says Starbucks should allow guns, the Second Amendment grants the right to all U.S. citizens, not everyone who carries a gun is going to rob or shoot up a place.

Anastasia says, "Owning guns is a right, because when this nation formed, we had militias, it`s not a right because you need to have a weapon on you at all times."

Hallie thinks, "People should not be able to bring guns in the Starbucks because the people inside would feel uncomfortable."

Brandt writes, "I can understand them frowning upon bringing a shotgun slung around your shoulder, but if a pistol makes people uncomfortable, they need some serious culture."

From Sarah, "While I personally believe Starbucks should allow guns in their store, as an independent organization, I believe they have the right to say, what is and isn`t allowed on their property.

Cierra says, she works at Starbucks and doesn`t mind as long as people don`t pull out their guns. It`s a safety precaution to some people."

Finally today, so many of us have a sweet tooth, but it`s going to take a whole mouthful to swallow confectionery concoction this big. What you`re looking at is a moon cake, it`s China`s version of a fruit cake, and this might be the biggest one ever made, which is probably why it takes two guys to even slice it. 2.5 tons, that`s 5,000 pounds of moon cake. The chefs are hoping it will set a world record. And if it does, they`ll surely be over the moon, because the effort they put into that was just no piece of cake, the acclaim would be there just desserts. I`m Carl Azuz. Have a great rest of your day.