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Obama agenda: U.N./G-20 focus

The Boston Globe: "President Obama sought to blanket the airwaves yesterday with an impassioned defense of his health care effort during back-to-back broadcasts of taped interviews on five morning-news programs. In interviews conducted Friday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Obama acknowledged being humbled by the challenge of 'breaking through' in the complicated and emotional battle over health care legislation."

President Obama, Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority's Abbas are going to sit down for a trilateral in New York on Tuesday. It will be the first time Netanyahu and Abbas have met since Netanyahu took over as prime minister.

The AP previews Obama's UN/G-20 week: "The unrelenting global troubles confronting Barack Obama are about to converge on him all at once, providing a stern test of leadership for a first-year president who has pledged to 'change the world.' In a span of four days, Obama will plunge into the politics of the United Nations and host a summit in Pittsburgh on the world's wobbling economy. The international stage is coming to him, and no one standing on it with him will have higher stakes."

Here's the New York Times' preview: "European allies still refuse to send significantly more troops to Afghanistan. The Saudis basically ignored Mr. Obama's request for concessions to Israel, while Israel rebuffed his demand to stop settlement expansion. North Korea defied him by testing a nuclear weapon. Japan elected a party less friendly to the United States. Cuba has done little to liberalize in response to modest relaxation of sanctions. India and China are resisting a climate change deal. And Russia rejected new sanctions against Iran's nuclear program even as Mr. Obama heads into talks with Tehran."

By the way, the White House pushes back hard on this piece and believes if you look at the foreign policy landscape and specifically note the tri-lateral meeting with Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority's Abbas for later this week, if you note the UN resolution against North Korea, then it's been a productive nine months at least on those two issues.

One of the more interesting excerpts from the Gates op-ed in the New York Times defending the missile defense decision: "One criticism of this plan is that we are relying too much on new intelligence holding that Iran is focusing more on short- and medium-range weapons and not progressing on intercontinental missiles. Having spent most of my career at the C.I.A., I am all too familiar with the pitfalls of over-reliance on intelligence assessments that can become outdated. As Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a few days ago, we would be surprised if the assessments did not change because "the enemy gets a vote."

"The new approach to European missile defense actually provides us with greater flexibility to adapt as new threats develop and old ones recede. For example, the new proposal provides some antimissile capacity very soon — a hedge against Iran's managing to field missiles much earlier than had been previously predicted. The old plan offered nothing for almost a decade."