President Joe Biden defended the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in his first speech to the United Nations, saying his administration seeks to focus on diplomacy to address numerous global challenges.
"We've ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of relentless war, we're opening a new era of relentless diplomacy," Biden said in remarks to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 21.
Facing criticism from allies over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden reiterated that the U.S. military "must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world."
"The mission must be clear and achievable, undertaken with informed consent of the American people and whenever possible in partnership with our allies," Biden said.
He added that "instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes" on other global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and human rights abuses.
Biden said the world stands at an "inflection point" amid myriad crises and that addressing challenges "will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity."
To unleash human potential, Biden said democracy is the “best tool” available as he warned of the threat of authoritarian governments.
"The authoritarianism in the world may seek to proclaim the end of the age of democracy. But they are wrong. The truth is the democratic world is everywhere. It lives in the anti-corruption activists, the human rights defenders, the journalists, the peace protesters; on the front lines in this struggle in Belarus, Burma, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and everywhere between,” he said.
“It lives in the proud Moldovans who have delivered a landslide victory for the forces of democracy, for the mandate to fight graft, to build a more inclusive economy,” Biden said.
With regards to Iran, Biden said that the United States would return to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal if Tehran does the same as world powers seek to bring the two sides back into compliance after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal.
Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to gradually breach its commitments under the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Biden said the United States was working with China, France, Russia, Britain, and Germany to "engage Iran diplomatically and to seek a return to" to the nuclear deal.
"We're prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same," he added.
He also said the world needs to peacefully manage "global power dynamics."
Without mentioning China, Biden referred to tensions between the two nations but said the United States does not seek “a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.”
"The United States is ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to share challenges even if we have intense disagreement in other areas," he said.