President Obama to Meet With Mideast Leaders

President Obama will meet in New York on Tuesday with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, will also be in New York. On Monday, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, will meet in Washington with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other officials.

The White House said it did not expect to achieve any breakthroughs, but senior administration officials said Mr. Obama decided to go ahead with a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to show his determination to get the process moving again.

"This is the next step in a determined diplomatic process that started on Day 1 of this administration," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, New York Times informs.

Obama's appearances at the U.N. meetings in New York, and with Group of 20 leaders later this week in Pittsburgh, offer him a "unique opportunity" to burnish his image as an effective and commanding leader, said a White House official who asked not to be named in order to speak freely. If Obama does this successfully, the White House hopes it could help the president as he wrestles for the confidence of an American public that is still deeply divided over his healthcare legislation.

Most Democratic lawmakers can be counted on to support an overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system, but the more conservative ones need to know they have a strong president who can help Democrats win reelection if they vote with him on this issue, Los Angeles Times reports.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said yesterday that Abbas attending the meeting "does not mean negotiations". He reiterated the Palestinian demand for a total freeze.

Tony Blair, the special envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the Quartet – the UN, the US, the European Union and Russia – has become increasingly frustrated with failure to make progress and is pinning hopes on Obama making a breakthrough.

"The most important thing about this week is that there is a meeting taking place where people are face to face," Blair said. "In my view the precondition of a Palestinian state is to build that state from the bottom up as well as the top down," he added. "The important thing is to get a negotiation on a two-state solution under way as soon as possible," according to

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