- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2013

The White House confirmed Friday that President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas next week in New York City during the global gathering of world leaders for the U.N. General Assembly.

“This is an important opportunity for [Mr. Obama] to reinforce the support of the United States for the progress that is under way for Middle East peace,” said Ben Rhodes, the administration’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, during a conference call with reporters.

Mr. Obama will travel to New York on Monday morning, a day before he’ll address the General Assembly in an eagerly anticipated speech that likely will focus heavily on the Syrian civil war and the diplomatic process to rid that country of its chemical weapons.

But peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians — recently resumed after a three-year hiatus — also will be at the top of Mr. Obama’s agenda in the coming weeks.

In addition to meeting with Mr. Abbas in New York, the president will sit down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Sept. 30.

The White House said Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu will discuss peace negotiations, as well as other developments in the region.

Mr. Netanyahu remains intent on discussing Tehran’s nuclear program.

“I intend to focus on the question of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, an actual halt to the nuclear program,” he said earlier this week. “And until this is achieved, the pressure on Iran should be intensified and not eased.”

While in New York, Mr. Obama also will meet with the presidents of Nigeria and Lebanon.

As of Friday, there are no plans for him to sit down with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who also is addressing the U.N. on Tuesday.



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