Obama heads to New York with packed agenda including development, ASEAN, and Sudan
President Obama travels to New York Wednesday afternoon to attend the U.N. General Assembly and participate in a host of side meetings with the world leaders convening in Manhattan for this week’s festivities. "This year’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly comes as we have successfully and dramatically changed our course at the United Nations. We’ve ...
President Obama travels to New York Wednesday afternoon to attend the U.N. General Assembly and participate in a host of side meetings with the world leaders convening in Manhattan for this week's festivities.
President Obama travels to New York Wednesday afternoon to attend the U.N. General Assembly and participate in a host of side meetings with the world leaders convening in Manhattan for this week’s festivities.
"This year’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly comes as we have successfully and dramatically changed our course at the United Nations. We’ve ended needless American isolation," said U.S. Representative Susan Rice on a conference call with reporters Monday. "We’ve worked to repair what were some badly frayed relationships and scrapped outdated positions. And in the process, we’ve built a strong basis for cooperation that advances our security."
Obama’s first order of business will be to deliver remarks at the Millennium Development Goals summit at the United Nations. Obama is expected to unveil several aspects of the White House’s overall review of global development policy, called the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development (PSD-7). That long awaited document has been completed according to the administration but is not expected to be publicly released at all beyond Obama’s remarks and a statement coming later Wednesday.
Obama’s remarks "will focus on what the United States is doing in pursuit of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and focus on some of the key initiatives of our development policy writ large," said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes on the conference call.
Obama will address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday morning, talking about broader American foreign policy goals and the activities of his administration in its first 20 months. The president will concentrate "on issues that are of great concern to the American people, such as our efforts to restart the global economy, to combat al Qaeda, to advance the cause of nonproliferation, and to pursue Middle East peace," Rhodes said.
After his speech, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before attending a lunch hosted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He will meet briefly on the side of that lunch with Ban and Joseph Deiss, the president of the General Assembly.
Later Thursday, Obama meets with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. "The President is looking forward to visiting Japan, of course, in November, and thinks that this is one of our most important alliances in the world," Rhodes said. Asia observers are watching for news on the escalating China-Japan argument over a Chinese boat captain detained in Japanese waters.
Thursday afternoon, Obama will head over to the Clinton Global Initiative in midtown Manhattan to give introductory remarks for his wife Michelle, who will be delivering a speech there. Thursday evening, Obama hosts a reception at the Natural History Museum.
On Friday, Obama starts off with bilateral meetings with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who apparently took time out of his schedule to attend a Shakira concert. A meeting with the interim Kyrgyz president, Roza Otunbayeva, is scheduled for late Friday
Friday lunch will be the setting for Obama’s meeting with leaders from all ten ASEAN member countries, where the South China Sea dispute with China and upcoming Burmese elections are expected to be discussed.
After that, Obama attends a high-level meeting on Sudan hosted by Ban, and participants include the chairman of the African Union, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir.
"The President decided to participate in this event, which was actually at one point originally intended as a ministerial, because this could not be a more critical time in the life of Sudan and also in the life of international efforts to ensure that these referenda go off on time and peacefully," Samantha Power, the NSC’s senior director for multilateral engagement, told reporters.
The months before the planned referendum in January on dividing Sudan into two countries are critical, said Power, who also noted that Obama would be pushing both sides to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and work faster toward preparing for the voting.
"The No. 1 message is with regard to the CPA and the need for rapid implementation. The parties are behind schedule. You’re aware of that. Everybody is aware of that," she said, adding that Obama will also speak about the dire humanitarian situation in Darfur.
Rice said Obama will reinforce both incentives and penalties for both sides in order to encourage them to act in good faith.
"We want to make the upside opportunity clear and well understood. At the same time, we’ve also been clear that if they fail to follow through, that there will be — as we have always said in the context of our policy — consequences," she said. "Those might take the form of unilateral and/or multilateral, and we’ve got a number that are potentially at our disposal."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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