Here's a look at five things to watch for on the two-day trip:
Handshake Diplomacy: The most important interaction on the president’s visit may last minutes or even seconds between Obama and newly elected Iranian President
Obama has suggested he is open to direct talks over the issue, but aides hint strongly that he is more comfortable with opening talks that involve all the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. If the two leaders do meet – and that isn't a given – the likely scenario is an informal exchange of pleasantries or, simply, a handshake. National security officials are wary of a welcome that is too enthusiastic, before the new Iranian leader has a chance to demonstrate his commitment to dismantling the nuclear program. Obama will make decisions "based on their actions, not their words," one senior administration official said.
Dual Syria Message: The Syrian government has submitted its first report describing its cache of chemical weapons, and international monitors haven’t dismissed it out of hand. U.S. officials are not yet convinced that President
Obama is eager to keep alive the threat of strikes if progress is not made, which means that this week he’ll be simultaneously making the case for military force while asking the international community to support efforts to reach a diplomatic solution. The
Middle East Peace: Obama is giving prime face time to the principal players in the talks over critical issues in the peace process starting this week, despite the slim prospects for a resolution. The president plans to meet Tuesday with
The annual U.N. sessions have been an awkward for Obama and Abbas in the past. Although the U.S. supports Palestinian statehood, the government's position is that it can come only through direct talks with the Israelis. Thus, at last year's U.N. session, Obama argued against an implicit recognition of Palestinian statehood by the world body.
Spies Like Us: Some U.S. allies and friends are still chafing over summer disclosures that they were targeted by sweeping surveillance programs run by the
Rousseff is likely to run into Obama, her spurned host, just days after she asked him to clean up the NSA's act before they talk about finding another date on their social calendars. She may even bring up her concerns about U.S.-based Internet networks while appearing at the U.N.
Visa Pending: The Sudanese president wanted for war crimes has threatened to show up at the world summit, setting off a controversy about whether he should be admitted to the summit or turned over to the
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N.,