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Clinton Kicks Off A Busy Week Of Diplomacy


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

President Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly today, at a time when U.S. embassies and consulates have been the target of protests across the Muslim world. Mr. Obama's aides say he will use this speech to again condemn the anti-Islam video that offended many Muslims.

The president is expected to also talk about Iran and Syria. He will then head back to the campaign trail, leaving the customary bilateral meetings with world leaders to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Kicking off a busy week of diplomacy, Secretary Clinton met with the presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and Egypt. Clinton is also planning to meet the new leaders of Tunisia and Yemen, and says one of her messages is that the people in the region don't want to trade the tyranny of dictator for the tyranny of the mob.


SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: If you look around the world today, countries that are focused more on fostering growth than fomenting grievance are racing ahead, building schools instead of burning them, investing in their people's creativity, not inciting their rage.

KELEMEN: The violence in Syria will also be a topic of some of her meetings here in New York. The U.N. and Arab League envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, gave a gloomy assessment to the Security Council Monday, calling the situation very grim and telling reporters that there's no quick end to the violence.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: There is a stalemate. There is no prospect for today or tomorrow to move forward.

KELEMEN: Still, Brahimi says he hopes to find an opening soon, and he's working on some new peace proposals. He just needs a divided Security Council to get behind him.

BRAHIMI: I think there is no disagreement anywhere that the situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse, that it is a threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world.

KELEMEN: But Russia and China have been blocking U.N. Security Council action, and at times, it looks as if the council is just giving up, says Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch.

PHILIPPE BOLOPION: We hope that the Security Council will not simply be a bystander of the slow motion tragedy unfolding in Syria. And we hope that they can hit the reset button during the General Assembly and come together and start adopting the kind of measures that could influence the Syrian government.

KELEMEN: Standing outside the U.N., though, he isn't sounding too upbeat about the prospects for that.

BOLOPION: In 2005, in the very same General Assembly, leaders from around the world came together and endorsed the concept of responsibility to protect, meaning that the world community would not stand by while thousands of people are being slaughtered. And Syria is proving that we still have a long way to go to achieve this goal.

KELEMEN: Iran's suspect nuclear program will be another dominant theme this week, with speeches by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

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