Obama to Address UN on Arab Spring, Mideast Peace Efforts

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 10:38 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama will address the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday with a speech expected to focus on the so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions and the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The White House Tuesday previewed some of what the president will discuss, including his administration's efforts to advance U.S. interests and values in what it called “a new era of engagement.” The White House also said Mr. Obama will touch on the “unprecedented mandate” to intervene in Libya.

World leaders met Tuesday to discuss plans to support post-Gadhafi Libya. At that meeting, Mr. Obama assured the new Libyan leaders they will have a “friend and partner” to assist them in developing security, providing humanitarian aid and peacefully transitioning to democracy.

On the question of U.N. membership for a Palestinian state, which has been figuring heavily in the conversation at the United Nations this week, White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Mr. Obama will stress firm U.S. support for Israel, while also emphasizing that a peace agreement must come from direct talks between the two parties.

Mr. Obama has announced he will meet separately with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki called on the United States to rethink its promise to veto the Palestinian's bid to be recognized as an independent state.

Despite strong resistance from the U.S. and Israel, al-Malki expressed confidence that his government could win the necessary nine of 15 votes from the Security Council. President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver his application on Friday, when he also is expected to address the assembly.

The opening day of the 66th annual session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York was attended by more than 100 world leaders.