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At the U.N. General Assembly, Biden Addresses World Leaders. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 19, 2023 - 10:30   ET



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Through the strategic investments, we can unlock enormous amounts of private sector financing. The G7 has pledged to work with parties to collectively mobilize $600 billion in infrastructure and financing by 2027. The United States has already mobilized more than $30 billion to date. We're creating a race to the top of projects that have high standards for workers, the environment, and intellectual property while avoiding the trap of unsustainable debt.

We are focusing on economic carters that will maximize the impact of our collective investment, and deliver consequential results across multiple countries and multiple sectors. For example, the (INAUDIBLE) carter will extend across Africa, from the western port of Angola to the DRC to Zambia boosting regional connectivity and strengthening commerce and food security in Africa.

Similarly, the groundbreaking effort that we announced at the G20 to connect India to Europe through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel will spur opportunities and investment across two continents. This is part of our effort to build a more sustainable and integrated Middle East. It demonstrates how Israel's greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors is to deliver (ph) positive and practical impacts even as we continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinian, two states for two people.

Now, let me be clear, none of these partnerships are about containing any country, or about a positive vision for our shared future. When it comes to China, I want to be clear and consistent, we seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I have said we are for de-risking, not decoupling with China. We will push back on aggression and intimidation and defend the rules of the road, from freedom of navigation to overflight to level economic playing field that have helped safeguard security and prosperity for decades. But we also stand ready to work together with China on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts. Nowhere is that more critical than accelerating the climate crisis than the accelerated climate crisis.

We see it everywhere. Record-breaking heat waves in the United States and China. Wildfires ravaging North America and Southern Europe. A fifth-year of drought in the Horn of Africa. Tragic, tragic flooding in Libya. My heart goes out to the people of Libya that has killed thousands, thousands of people.

Together, these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate proof the world. For one day, for one day my administration, the United States has treated this crisis as an existential threat from the moment we took office. Not only for us, but for all of humanity.

Last year, I signed into law in the United States the largest investment ever anywhere in the history of the world to combat the climate crisis and help move the global economy toward a clean energy future. We're also working with the Congress to quadruple our climate financing to help developing countries reach their climate goals and adapt climate impact. And this year, the world is on track to meet the climate finance pledge that made under the Paris Agreement, $100 billion the raise collectively.

But we need more investment from public and private sector alike, especially in the places that have contributed so little to global emission but faced some of the worst effects of climate change like the Pacific Islands. The United States is working directly with the Pacific Island Forum to help these nations adapt and build resilience to the climate impact, even as we lead the effort to build innovative new partnerships that attack the global challenges from all sides.

From the First Movers Coalition which is mobilizing billions of private sector community and private commitments to creating a market demand for green products in carbon and ten sectors like concrete, shipping, aviation and trucking.


To the agricultural innovation emission for climate which is bringing farmers into the climate solution and making our food supply more resilient to climate shocks. And the global methane pledge now endures by more than 150 countries which expands our focus beyond our carbon emission targets to reduce the potential greenhouse gases in our atmosphere by 30 percent in this decade. It's all within our capacity.

We need to bring the same commitment and urgency and ambition as we work together to meet the sustainable development sustainable goals of 2030. These goals were adopted at the United Nations in 2015 as a roadmap for improving lives around the world. But the hard truth is, for decades of progress, the world has lost ground in the past years in the wake of COVID-19, conflicts and other crises.

The United States is committed to doing its part to get us back on track. All totaled in the first two years of my administration, the United States has invested more than $100 billion to drive development of progress and bolstering food security and expanding access to education worldwide, strengthening health care systems and fighting disease. And we've helped mobilize billions more in the private sector investments.

But to accelerate our forward progress on the sustainable development goals, we all have to do more. We need to build new partnerships and change the way we tackle this challenge to unlock trillions of additional financings for development. Drawing on all sources. We need to fill the gaps and address the failures of our existing system exposed by the pandemic. We need to ensure that women and girls will benefit fully from our progress. We must also do more to grapple with the debt that holds back so many low and middle income countries.

When nations are forced to service unsustainable debt payments over the needs of their own people, it makes it harder for them to invest in their own futures. And as we work together to recover from global shocks, the United States will also continue to be the largest single community donor, country donor of humanitarian assistance at this moment of unparalleled need in the world.

Folks, cooperation, partnership, these are the keys to progress on the challenges that affect us all, and the baseline for responsible global leadership. We don't need to agree on everything to keep moving forward on issues like arms control, a cornerstone of international security.

After more than 50 years of progress of the nonproliferation treaty, Russia is shredding long-standing arms control agreements, including announcing the suspension of new start and withdrawing from the conventional forces in Europe Treaty. I believe it is irresponsible that makes the entire world less safe. The United States is going to continue to pursue good faith efforts to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction and lead by example no matter what else has happened in the world.

This year, we safely destroyed at least the last chemical munitions of the U.S. stockpile, fulfilling our commitment toward a world free of chemical weapon. And we condemn the DPRK's continued violation of the U.N. Security and Council resolutions, but we are committed to diplomacy that will bring about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We're working with our partners to address Iran's destabilizing activities that threat regional and global security, and remain steadfast in our commitment that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

Now, in our -- as it involves our institutions and drive creative new partnerships. Let me be clear, certain principles that are in our national system are sacrosanct. Sovereignty, territorial integrity, human rights, these are the core tenets of the U.N. Charter. The pillars of a peaceful relations among nations, without which we cannot achieve any our goals. That has not changed, and that must not change.

Yet for the second year in a row, this gathering dedicated to peaceful resolution of conflicts is darkened by the shadow of war. An illegal war of conquest brought without provocation by Russia against his neighbor Ukraine. Like every nation in the world, the United States wants this war to end. No nation wants this war to end more than Ukraine. And we strongly support Ukraine in its efforts to bring about diplomatic resolution that delivers just and lasting peace.


Russia alone bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately. And its Russia alone stands in the way of the peace, because Russia's price for peace is Ukraine's capitulation, Ukraine's territory, and Ukraine's children.

Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence. But I ask you this, if we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected. If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nations secure? I'd respectfully suggest the answer is no.

We have to stand up to this negative aggression today, and deter would-be aggressors of tomorrow. That's why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom.

It's not only investment in Ukraine's future, but the future of every country that seeks a world governed by basic rules that apply equally to all nations and uphold the rights of every nation no matter how big or small. Sovereignty, territorial integrity, they are the fixed foundation of this noble body. And universal human rights is its north star. We cannot sacrifice either.

75 years ago, the universal declaration of human rights captured a remarkable act of collective hope, and I'll say it again, collective hope, drafted by a committee representing different regions, faiths, philosophies and adopted by the entire general assembly. The rights contained in the declaration are elemental and enduring.

Now, while we still struggle to uphold equal and inalienable rights of all they remain ever steady and ever true. We cannot turn away from abuses whether in Xinjiang, Tehran, Darfur, or anywhere else. We have to continue working to ensure that women and girls enjoy equal rights in income participation in the society. That indigenous groups, racial, ethnic, religious minorities, people with disabilities do not have their protections stifled by systemic discrimination. That the LGBTQI plus people are not prosecuted or targeted with violence because of who they are. These rights are part of the shared humanity. They're absent -- when they're absent anywhere, their loss is felt everywhere. They are essential to the advancement of human progress that brings us together.

My fellow leaders, let me close with this, at this inflection point in history, we are going to be judged by whether or not we live up to the promises we made to ourselves, to each other, to the most vulnerable, and to all of those who will inherit the world we create because that is what we are doing. Will we find within ourselves the courage to do what must be done to preserve the planet, to protect human dignity, to provide opportunity for people everywhere, and to defend the tenets of the United States?

There can only be one answer to that question. We must and we will. The road ahead is long and difficult but if we preserve, persevere and prevail, if we keep the faith in ourselves and show what possible, let's do this work together. Let's deliver progress for everyone. Let's bend the arc of history for the good of the world. This is in our power to do it. Thank you for listening. You're kind. [10:45:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the assembly, I wish to thank the president of the United States of America for the statement just made --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: President Biden addressing the United Nation's General Assembly. And you may have seen the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in the hall listening, so poignant. President Biden said, we are at an inflection point in world history. And he said, what is at stake, sovereignty, territorial integrity, human rights. Of course, what he was talking about most there was Ukraine, Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And he made the case that it cannot be allowed to stand.

It was about a 27, 28-minute address. He waited until 20 minutes in to bring up Russia for the very first time. But once he did, it was clear where the direction of this address was going and the point that he wanted to make to bolster world support for Ukraine's effort, to try to sustain the world support for that effort.

Here outside of the United Nations, walking along -- watching alongside beside me, CNN Chief National Security Analyst Jim Sciutto, and our Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche.

Jim, what did you hear there?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Listen, that was his key message. There's a reason he ended on that point about Ukraine and the message to the world. And I think you could read it as an appeal for the sake of Ukraine, but also a challenge to the members of this body, perhaps even some prodding. He said, it's essential to the U.N. Charter. Three principles, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and human rights, all of which are being violated right now in Ukraine by an invasion of choice by Russia.

And he notes, for the second year in a row, he said they were darkened by the shadow of war in Ukraine. In effect saying -- and he goes on to say, we'll be judged by whether we stand up to this. You know, the U.N. was founded in the wake of -- in the destruction, post-World War II to prevent another devastating war, right? And here we are, 70, 80 years later with the largest war in Europe since World War II, and it persists for a second year. And his message is in effect, we cannot, as members of this body, committed to -- what we are committed to let it go on. And by the way, if we, members of this body, don't stand up to this, none of us are safe.

BERMAN: And it will come to your doorstep.

SCIUTTO: Yes, exactly.

BERMAN: And of course, he is addressing the issue of Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. So, obviously a very sensitive matter.

Kayla, and he said, Russia alone, alone bears responsibility for this. KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That was one of the lines that stood out to me where he laid the blame for the invasion squarely at the feet of Russia whose foreign minister is expected to be in attendance at the general assembly this week. But notable considering that up until this point, all of the draft resolutions of the Security Council to end the war in Ukraine for, you know, various allies around the world to condemn the war in Ukraine have failed because of Russia's membership on the U.N. Security Council. And so, it's an important distinction that the president was making there.

And also, to our earlier conversation about the shades of domestic politics that are, if are not overtly present in today's speech, at least were seen as allusions by the president to domestic politics. One in particular where he said, history need not dictate our future. He then went on to talk about the U.S. rejoining UNESCO, which is the educational and cultural body that President Trump withdrew from in 2017, and President Biden rejoined just this summer.

He then went on to talk about the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the G20, all multilateral organizations that if the former president did not threaten to withdraw from, he maligned in some way. So, President Biden trying to re-establish the U.S. position of leadership on the world stage and, you know, sort of, obliquely referencing those domestic politics. But you're right, the fact that he ended on Russia and Ukraine with about 10 minutes of his speech shows that that's where he really wanted the viewer and the audience to come away with a lasting impression.

BERMAN: And I kept on looking at the audience, looking at the face of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to see if I could gauge any reaction. How did he feel about what President Biden was saying? It was impossible to read anything from his face, Jim. But were -- was there enough for Zelenskyy in that?

SCIUTTO: Well, see -- I mean, that line that he had about protecting Ukraine was the one applause line, right?


SCIUTTO: And this body, it's failed in a number of ways preventing and stopping this war. But the vast majority of members have voted to condemn the war, right? There was some relative unity in that room there against Russia's invasion, but it -- that has not managed the essential task, right, of ending that war.

And, you watched Zelenskyy there. He, of course, applauded at the end. But I think we can be fairly certain that his private meetings with the U.S. officials continue to be quite pressing. We need more help. Where are all those F-16s, right? Yes, we are doing our best in this counteroffensive, but why did you hold us back? Why did you tie our hands on these weapon systems? That's their view of it.


So, I am certain in private rooms around here, he's pushing for more and saying, this is a crucial time.

BERMAN: Kayla, not here today. And we haven't had a chance to address this yet. There are several world leaders who are almost always here who were not. The prime minister of the United Kingdom is not here. President of France is not here. Prime minister of India is not here. And then two leaders who haven't been here for a few years, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. How do you think that hangs over what we're watching?

TAUSCHE: Well, I think that the White House would say that President Biden has very robust open lines of communication with the U.K. and France. They speak often, they speak frequently. And to be sure, many of those world leaders were just in India together for the G20. And then, of course, there was the BRICS Summit of emerging market nations in South Africa that took place earlier in August.

Later this fall, you have APEC which is an Indo-Pacific focused economic summit that's going to be taking place in San Francisco. And that's really where administration officials are expecting President Biden and President Xi of China to possibly meet on the sidelines of that visit in a bilateral format. And then you have COP28 which is the climate focused summit which is taking place in Dubai.

So, there are all of these various fora for leaders to be meeting. When you talk to foreign policy experts, they say that some leaders go forum shopping. If they feel like they can't get from the U.N., for instance, or the G20 what they're trying to get, then they'll go somewhere else.

SCIUTTO: And by the way, some of those fora are directly competitive to this institution, and also to the U.S. view of the world. BRICS is expanding because you have a meeting of the minds, you know, quite a disparate group of nations there, but a meeting of the minds to say, we want to stand up to what they perceive as an overbearing U.S. power. So, some of it is competitive as well.

BERMAN: I want to go back to the Russia alone bears responsibility. Russia alone can basically forge the way to peace here. That is something, I imagine, that Volodymyr Zelenskyy wanted to hear here. For anyone trying to push him back to the negotiating table, he wants acknowledgment that this is all 100 percent Russia's fault, and they're the ones that have to back off.

SCIUTTO: True, but they are not, right? I mean, there's no expectations. I speak to officials in Europe and here in the U.S., they do not expect Russia to back off from this war. Certainly not through the next election as we were talking about before the speech because Putin is hoping he gets a friendlier occupant of the White House for, that's the U.S. intelligence read of Putin's intentions here.

So, from a realistic standpoint in both directions, U.S. officials, western officials do not expect Ukraine to gain a clear victory in the coming months, year, perhaps longer. But they also do not expect Russia to suddenly find God and say, you know what, we're going to back off here. That they feel they could withstand both the economic and military cause of these, which are devastating, certainly on human terms for Russia as well, the soldiers its loosing, but that Putin is willing to stand up for at least another year to see where the election goes.

BERMAN: And to that end, all of President Biden's public comments have been for 100 percent support for Ukraine, both from the United States and pushing nations around the world to get in there as well.

But Kayla, sometimes the hardest relationships to manage are the ones with your friends, not with your enemies here. How does the White House feel about the consistent pressuring from Zelenskyy more, give us more, more, more. And they're going to hear it, I imagine, from the podium when Zelenskyy gives a historic address later today, and they will hear it in their one-on-one meeting between Zelenskyy and Biden later this week.

TAUSCHE: They acknowledge, John, that it's impossible for Zelenskyy to take anything other than that approach, at least publicly. Where they bristle is when Zelenskyy has made comments in the past that the U.S. and G7 allies in particular are not doing enough when Zelenskyy was looking for fighter jets within the last 12 months. And he felt that western allies were dragging their feet, and really had some very tough words.

So, I know that the administration was frustrated that he painted a picture that the west was not doing enough to assist Ukraine. But as a leader whose country has been under siege for 600 days, nearly 600 days, this is the only public stance that he can take. Now, the question is, where support and how much support will remain here in the United States?

Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, has suggested to reporters that when he meets with bipartisan leaders in Congress in the U.S., that he is getting some assurances that there will be continued bipartisan support for Ukraine. The question is, they've asked for $24 billion through the end of the year, how much will they actually get in a couple of weeks' time?

BERMAN: Again, President Biden giving this address, not just as the leader of the United States, but also the likely Democratic nominee for president one year from now. It'll just be a couple of months before the election next time around. It will have much greater domestic political implications, but you could see the beginning of that even here today.


Kayla Tausche, Jim Sciutto, thank you both very much. Again, in a few hours, we will see President Volodymyr Zelenskyy give his speech before this body. Much more to come. Our coverage continues right after this.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Back on U.S. soil and finally free. [11:00:00]