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Can the United Nations do anything about Syria?

Spekaing at the annual United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders to take action on the crisis in Syria.

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Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, whose country by tradition is the first to speak, supported the secretary-general, saying: "There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Diplomacy and dialogue are not just our best option: they are the only option."

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With the Security Council unable to action, the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, said Arab countries should intervene "out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed ... in order to guarantee a peaceful transition of power in Syria."

He cited a similar precedent when Arab forces intervened in Lebanon in the mid-1970s to stop the civil war "in a step that proved to be effective and useful."

French President Francois Hollande said almost 30,000 people have died and asked: "How many more deaths will we wait for before we act? How can we let the paralysis of the United Nations to continue?"

"I know one thing is certain, the Syrian regime will never again take its place in the council of nations. It has no future among us," he said.

He called on the United Nations to protect "liberated zones" within Syria and to ensure humanitarian aid to refugees.

Ban also expressed profound concern at continuing violence in Afghanistan and Congo, increasing unrest across west Africa's Sahel region where al-Qaida has made inroads, and the "dangerous impasse" between Israelis and Palestinians that may close the door on the two-state solution.

The "shrill war talk" by Israel in recent weeks, in response to its belief that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, "has been alarming," Ban said, and Tehran's rhetoric threatening Israel's existence is unacceptable.

"Any such attacks would be devastating," he said, reminding the presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and diplomats from the 193 U.N. member states of the need for peaceful solutions and respect for international law.

"Leaders have a responsibility to use their voices to lower tensions instead of raising the temperature and volatility of the moment," he said.

Alluding to the recently circulated amateur video made in the U.S. which attacks Islam and denigrates the Prophet Muhammad, Ban said that "in recent days we have seen hate speech and violent responses that perpetuate a cycle of blind violence."

He lamented that in the world today "too often, divisions are exploited for short-term political gain" and "too many people are ready to take small flames of difference and turn them into a bonfire."

The secretary-general said it's time for responsible political and community leaders and ordinary citizens to speak out.

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