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Obama arrives in New York for UN talks

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama step off Air Force One in New York. - AFP Photo

NEW YORK: US President Barack Obama arrived here Monday ahead of the UN General Assembly, this year overshadowed by a UN bid for membership of a Palestinian state.

Air Force One, carrying the president and First Lady Michelle Obama, arrived from Washington at 5:10 pm (2110 GMT) at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, an AFP photographer said.

Amid tensions over the Palestinian bid to seek UN membership of a Palestinian state, National Security advisor Ben Rhodes confirmed that Obama was due to meet on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But there were “no meetings scheduled at this point” with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who is due to submit a formal application for UN membership for a Palestinian state on Friday.

“We have noted President Abbas's statement that he was going to pursue action at the Security Council. He is yet to file that action,” Rhodes said.

“But we have made our position clear. If it came to a vote we have made it clear that we would veto that action in the Security Council.”

Obama later Monday attended a brief a meet-and-greet at the UN General Assembly, after which he was to attend a Democratic fundraiser at a private home.

Rhodes said that among the items on Obama's calendar for Tuesday were bilateral meetings with the chairman of the Libya's Transitional National Council and with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.

Obama will also meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the call for Nato action in Libya, and got a hero's welcome during a joint trip to the country last week.

He added that Obama was to be the first head of state to address the UN General Assembly Tuesday.

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