Obama to make case at UN on Syria

President Obama will use Tuesday's address to the United Nations to press for quick action on Syria, the White House said Friday.

Obama's speech will focus on the need for a tough resolution demanding Syria turn over its chemical weapons or face a threat of force, White House spokesman Ben Rhodes told reporters. The president will also reiterate his demand that Bashar Assad step down.

The speech will focus on the “need for the international community to stand up to the use of chemical weapons,” Rhodes said. But that is only “one part of a broader challenge in Syria,” which also includes the “need for a political solution that removes Assad from power.”

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Rhodes said Obama would use the speech to lay out his administration's approach to the Middle East “given the complexity and breadth of challenges” in the region. He will reiterate America's “support for democratic principles in the region” as the Arab Spring's transitions continue to play out and press Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program.

He said the White House still has not scheduled a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but that encounters between lower-level officials might be possible. 

“It's possible that there could be some interaction at different levels” with the Iranians at the UN, he said.

Obama's first bilateral meeting, when he arrives on Monday, will be with Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan. They will discuss economic growth and security, the country's upcoming elections and Obama's Power Africa initiative.

Obama then hosts an event to draw attention to “growing restrictions on civil society.” Later on Monday he will visit the U.S. mission to the UN with Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador Samantha Power.

That evening, the president and his wife Michelle will host their annual reception for the visiting heads of state and their delegations.

On Tuesday, Obama will deliver his speech to the UN before meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to discuss the “extraordinary refugee challenge” the country confronts as it seeks to absorb hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

After meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and attending Ban's luncheon, Obama will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since Israel and the Palestinians launched direct negotiations under Kerry's auspices earlier this year.

He'll wrap things up by attending the Clinton Global Initiative, where former President Bill Clinton will make the case for keeping the healthcare reform on track despite Republican efforts to defund it.

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