Barack Obama passes on UN meetings to focus on re-election
US president passes up meetings with world leaders to give more time to campaign fight
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Barack Obama will take a mere day out of his bid to be re-elected president of the United States for the UN General Assembly this week, and his flying visit will be shorn of the usual flurry of meetings with world leaders.
Obama will hope to win a few domestic political points by cutting a statesman-like figure with his annual speech to the United Nations, and will offer his most detailed explanation yet of the US response to the rash of anti-American protests in the Arab world.
While in New York, he will also repay former president Bill Clinton for his acclaimed speech lauding the Obama presidency at the Democratic National Convention, by appearing at the annual Clinton Global Initiative meetings.
And while Obama's schedule does not allow time to meet the likes of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Myanmar leader Thein Sein, he is expected to record an appearance on the popular American daytime talk show The View.
The show is a favourite with women voters, a key demographic in the November 6 poll, as Obama seeks to cement a narrow lead over Republican White House hopeful, Mitt Romney.
After one night and 24 hours in New York spanning today and tomorrow, Obama will be on the campaign trail again, travelling to Ohio on Wednesday and Virginia later in the week as he gears up for three head-to-head debates with Romney next month.
Obama's in-passing election-year appearance at the annual UN meetings contrasts with the early years of a presidency which prized grand foreign policy gestures on the global stage.
In an election in which the sluggish economy is the prime issue, despite the emergence of foreign policy challenges in Libya, Egypt and the Middle East, Obama's focus is clearly on his domestic audience.
In his place, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will hold meetings normally on the presidential portfolio, with talks expected with leaders of Israel, Myanmar, Pakistan and other nations vital to US foreign policy.
When Obama steps up to deliver his big speech to the UN, he will be addressing a sudden chill in the Arab Spring, following the murder of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans this month. "We were reminded this past week, this is a world still full of serious threats," Obama said on a campaign trip.