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Obama to focus on Middle East, meeting leaders at UN

Obama to focus on Middle East, meeting leaders at UN

Washington: US President Barack Obama is to meet Palestinian, Nigerian and Lebanese leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next week, the White House said Friday, adding the focus of his address to the assembly will be on the Middle East.

Besides his meetings with a number of global leaders, Obama will also urge the international society to stand strongly against the use of chemical weapons, calling on the Security Council to adopt a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, Xinhua reported.

According to White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, President Obama will talk in New York Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the recently relaunched peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The president will meet with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Monday and with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman separately Tuesday to discuss the influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon, Rhodes said in a preview of Obama's UN trip.

The US president is to focus his address to the General Assembly on the Middle East and North Africa, laying out the US approach and policy forward, the White House official added.

The White House also said Obama would talk about the Middle East peace process and the Iran nuclear issue, adding that he would urge a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue through diplomacy.

Rhodes said the administration believes there was a window of opportunity to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically, but warned that recent willingness displayed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not enough.

Earlier in the day, Josh Earnest, deputy White House spokesman, said US officials "have had a number of engagements with the Iranians and we'll continue to have conversations on the basis of mutual respect".


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