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Obama to seek support for his world vision

The president's address to the U.N. General Assembly will urge nations to support nonproliferation efforts and peace talks in the Middle East.

September 23, 2009|Christi Parsons

THE UNITED NATIONS — President Obama will ask world leaders today to join him in confronting a range of vexing issues, including nuclear arms proliferation and climate change, and will appeal for the international cooperation he thinks will advance interests around the globe, aides said.

In a morning address to the United Nations General Assembly, Obama will call for several specific commitments, including support for the major elements of a nonproliferation resolution he plans to introduce before the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

Obama also will be "setting the table" for more specific appeals in the weeks and months to come, according to a senior administration official familiar with the speech but who requested anonymity.

The president will call on each nation to support Arab-Israeli peace talks and to fight violent extremism. He will mention Afghanistan but not make additional requests for commitments to the war effort.

"He'll ask for specific things, not all of them new," the official said. "This reflects a process of engagement in service of the shared priorities he has outlined."

Obama has used his foreign trips to lay out a world view that in part emphasizes outreach to other nations. Implicit in his overall message has been a promise to turn away from what other nations frequently criticized as the Bush administration's unilateral policies.

In his first address to the full General Assembly, senior administration officials said, Obama intends to complete the basic outline of his world view by asking other world leaders to support some of his efforts abroad.

Obama has made major speeches on foreign policy in the Czech Republic, Russia, Egypt and Ghana. Each carried a distinct message and was targeted to a specific audience.

In Prague, he appealed to Western Europe with a vow to try to abolish nuclear weapons. In Moscow, his message explored the shared interests of global powers.

In Cairo, he reached out to the Muslim world with an appeal to move past historic differences. And in Accra, Obama talked about supporting the aspirations of the developing world.

The stage in New York is at once domestic and global -- in a hall filled with the most international audience possible, in the largest U.S. city.

"This is where he pivots to a new message: Now is the time for all of us to take concrete action to pursue common goals," said a second official also familiar with the address.

Obama plans to ask leaders to support a U.N. resolution that calls for stepped-up efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. He also plans to ask them to support those priorities at a nuclear summit he is convening next year.

The speech also is expected to call on each nation to support peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, an effort the president hopes to set in motion in the coming weeks.

Although his own strategy in Afghanistan is under review, Obama still plans to call upon world leaders to commit to the larger goal of rooting out extremism around the world.

He also wants wealthier nations to contribute to an initiative to fight chronic food shortages in poorer nations.

"Now we're looking to others to come forward and make commitments too," the first official said.

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cparsons@latimes.com

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