Obama to reaffirm US presence in Middle East in UN address

President Obama will use his appearance before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to reaffirm America's intention to stay involved in the Middle East despite the recent outbreak of anti-American violence, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

Carney said Obama would address the recent protests that left four Americans dead and once again criticize the U.S.-made anti-Islam video blamed for inflaming tensions, while rejecting the violent response. The president, Carney said, is also expected to warn that the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

“I would expect the president to address the recent unrest in the Muslim world and the broader context of the democratic transitions in the Arab world,” Carney said. 

“He will also send a clear message that the United States will never retreat from the world. The United States will bring justice to those who harm Americans. And the United States will stand strongly for our democratic values abroad.”

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Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, are criticizing Obama for qualifying the recent protests as a “bump in the road” on CBS's “60 Minutes.” They've also attacked him for describing as "noise" recent statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raising the pressure for tougher U.S. action.

“When it comes to our national-security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people,” Obama said. “And I am going to block out — any noise that’s out there.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the comments were evidence that “the choice in this election could not be more clear.”

“We have on the one side Mitt Romney, a man who recognizes the importance of our alliance with Israel and the danger a nuclear Iran poses,” Cantor said in a statement. “And then we have President Obama, who in a recent interview with '60 Minutes' downplayed the Jewish state’s concern over Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon as ‘noise.' ”

Carney said the president is “absolutely committed” to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“With respect to Iran, we have consistently framed that issue around Iran's profound failure to meet its international obligations with respect to its nuclear program,” he said. “Therefore, the UNGA presents another opportunity for him to underscore that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.”