US President Barack Obama called on the world Monday to shun war and conflict and instead engage in new diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts across the globe.

Obama told the United Nations General Assembly, “If we cannot work together cooperatively, we will all suffer the consequences. We will all be stronger when we work together.”

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Yet he also defended US military strength and the US campaign against Islamic State insurgents in the Middle East, saying the Islamic State group would never have a “safe haven.”

He criticized Russia for its annexation a year ago of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and involvement in support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. He said Western economic sanctions against Moscow were necessary because no country could overlook the Crimean takeover “with impunity.”

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Obama said there were “no simple answers” for ending four years of fighting in Syria, but said diplomacy must be used to “forge an agreement (for the Syrian people) to live together peacefully.” He denounced President Bashar al-Assad as someone “who drops barrel bombs on his people.”

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Obama said after so much bloodshed and carnage, Syria cannot to return to pre-war status quo. He called for a transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Catastrophes like in Syria do not take place in countries where there is “genuine democracy,” Obama added.