On Friday, President Obama is expected to make a very important phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The phone call follows a week of heavy criticism against the president for not meeting with Netanyahu in person and yet making time for several TV appearances and campaign stops. Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister met with Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton for more than an hour, which included an "in depth discussion on Iran." That meeting followed Netanyahu’s blistering speech to the United Nations General Assembly where he made it clear Israel would demand a "red line" to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon - literally drawing that line in front of the audience. Mark Regev is the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and joins “Starting Point” today to discuss
Regev says the American position has been consistent with Israel calls to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. “Our position and the United States’ position are almost identical and we have to continue talking to see what we can do to prevent the Iranians from achieving a nuclear bomb.”
On Tuesday, a top Israeli official wrote in The Times of Israel article that while Fmr. President Clinton “made us feel like he had our back…President Obama doesn’t give us the same sense that he’d be there.” Regev disagrees – saying, “I don’t believe that’s an official who’s in the loop with what’s going on between Jerusalem and Washington today.” Regev adds, “I think there’s a common understanding that the Iranian regime simply can not be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapon.”
The spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister says despite the fact Obama chose not to meet with Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister did not feel insulted. “We came here to New York… because of the Jewish holidays we only arrived yesterday. The President was here only at the beginning of the week. We’ve got a good dialogue. We will continue to discuss the issue and the most important things to stop Iranian nuclear enrichment.”
On Wednesday, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will deliver his final address to the U.N. General Assembly as president of Iran. World leaders await the speech, which follow Ahmadinejad’s recent comments on eliminating Israel from the Middle East and “there will be a new world order free of American bullying.” CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott joins CNN’s “Starting Point” with a preview of Ahmadinejad's speech.
Labott says expect to hear "more of the same" in Ahmadinejad's U.N. speech where she believes he will “double down and up the ante.” Adding that, "Ahmadinejad is “very sidelined at home, not very strong right now” and “likes to use the world stage as a bullying pulpit.” Labott says that the Iranian president’s fiery comments, such as those on “a new world order” have an audience amongst leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Labott adds that Ahmadinejad new world order comments carry “a lot of residence with…some of these countries that do feel that the United States and the Western countries… call all the shots.”
Labott says there has been a lot of talk about Iran’s nuclear program, “but I think [Ahmadinejad’s] going to go in the opposite direction.”
Little time remains before President Obama is scheduled to deliver his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Other world leaders like Sect. General Ban Ki-moon and French President Francois Hollande are also scheduled to speak. The white house says Obama is expected to send a clear message that the united states will never retreat from the world and will bring justice to those who harm Americans amidst recent attack in Benghazi. some are however questioning the president’s decision to not hold private meetings with world leaders and making an appearance on ‘the view.’ (D-FL) Fmr. Congressman Robert Wexler is an Obama Campaign Surrogate and joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss Obama’s foreign policy report card.
Despite Obama’s decision to not hold private talks during UNGA, Wexler says, Obama “constantly engages with leaders all across the world.” “In the last few weeks he has talked great lengths with the president of Egypt – with the prime minister of Israel, leaders in Libya, in Yemen, in Afghanistan,” adds Wexler.
Wexler says “this is a president who has a stellar record on foreign policy and is constantly engaged with his peers across the world in Europe, in Asia and so forth.”
CNN’s Elise Labott says while it might be true that Obama talks with world leaders, she still believes he made an error in judgment in not holding high-level talks at the United Nations General Assembly. “It looks as if the president is saying, I checked this box. I’m sewn up on the foreign policy aspect and I want to connect with the American viewers in a different way.”
On Tuesday, President Obama as well as other world leaders are expected to address their peers at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This address will mark the fourth time he delivers a speech at the UNGA podium at which he is expected to address the violent protests in the Middle East that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. President Obama will also be using his speech to reaffirm U.S. support for Israel and restate the position that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), is a Romney campaign surrogate who recently wrote an op-ed for Politico listing the topics Obama needs to address during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
Barrasso says the first thing Obama needs to do is acknowledge that the war on terror continues. “I mean look at what you discovered CNN,” says Barrasso. “The private journals of Chris Stevens who said a number of things; this was not about a video. He was being targeted by al Qaeda. [Stevens] said al Qaeda was growing in Libya. [Stevens] said there was a rise of Islamic extremism in that area. There truly is terrorism that continues. This is not because of a video,” adds Barrasso.
The second thing Obama needs to address during his speech according to the Romney surrogate is his support for the people of Israel. Barrasso says, “at a time that Iran gets closer and closer to having a nuclear weapon” Obama needs to explain exactly what his support is for Israel.
Barrasso says the final thing the president needs to do is explain to the American people what his foreign policy actually entails. “Four years ago [Obama] said he would negotiate with Iran, that has failed,” says Barrasso. The Wyoming senator goes on to say that Obama has also failed at pushing the rest button with Russia and getting the Middle East to look at America with more respect.
Recently in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Obama discussed his foreign policy accomplishments saying he ended the war in Iraq and went after al Qaeda resulting in their decimation. Barrasso disagrees. “Al Qaeda is not on the run,” says Barrasso. “What we’ve seen is al Qaeda targeted and assonated our ambassador in Libya.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among 116 presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state are gathering in New York for the annual meeting of the United Nations general assembly. Recently Ahmadinejad spoke with CNN’s Piers Morgan and talked about a potential military confrontation with Israel. Fmr. Amb. R. Nicholas Burns weighs in on Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York.
“I don’t think he’s got the political power right now in Iran,” says Burns. “I think he’s made outrageous statements about Israel. He’s not the most popular person in his own society… So I think he’s really a defeated figure in his own country. He’ll be out of office next year. And he says things to get attention but they rarely make sense.”
Burns adds, that “the Iranians are in a tough spot because they’re very much isolated. “The sanctions that President Obama and Europeans have put on them are unprecedented and really making an impact on Iran. Iran has very few friends around the world. And of course they’re proceeding on their nuclear program which has been condemned by the United Nations Security council.”
“I think its going to be a tough week for Ahmadinejad. I don’t think he’s going to find much support at all in New York.”
Nearly 120 presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state are gathering in New York under heavy security for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The session kicks-off tomorrow with President Obama delivering his address. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes his turn in the spotlight.
On Sunday, Ahmadinejad spoke with CNN’s Piers Morgan and talked about a potential military confrontation with Israel.
-CNN’s Elise Labott and Richard Roth report
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