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Egypt's Morsi Makes First Speech To UN

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi
Egypt's new Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi, has given his first speech to the United Nations.

In a wide-ranging address to the UN General Assembly, Morsi declared the conflict raging in Syria the "tragedy of the age" that must be stopped.

"Egypt is committed to pursue the sincere efforts it has been exerting to put an end to the catastrophe in Syria, within an Arab, regional, and international framework. One that preserves the unity of this brotherly state, involves all factions of the Syrian people without racial, religious, or sectarian discrimination, and spares Syria the dangers of foreign military intervention that we oppose," Morsi said.

Morsi also condemned Israeli settlement building on territory the Palestinians claim for a future state. Morsi demanded the UN grant membership to the Palestinians, with or without a peace agreement with Israel.

"I assure you of Egypt's full support for any course of action Palestine decides to follow at the United Nations. I call upon all of you, just as you have supported the revolutions of the Arab peoples, I call on you to lend your support to the Palestinians in their endeavours to regain the full and legitimate rights of a people struggling to gain its freedom and establish its independent state," Morsi said.

Morsi also condemned an Internet video made in the United States that denigrates Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

"Egypt respects freedom of expression. One that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture. A freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence. Not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others. But we also stand firmly against the use of violence in expressing objection to these obscenities," Morsi said.

He also condemned the violence in Muslim countries last week in response to the video.

At least 51 people were killed, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans targeted in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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