Alexa

Obama, UN chief to discuss concerns at White House

 President Barack Obama, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, far right, makes an unscheduled visit at a meeting of the Council of Chief St...
 President Barack Obama walks with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as they returned to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March...
 President Barack Obama speaks, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, speaks during an unscheduled visit to a meeting of the Council ...
 President Barack Obama walks on stage as he arrives to speak about education at the 19th Annual Legislative Conference of the United States Hispanic ...
 National Security Adviser James Jones talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton inside the Oval Office of the White House while President ...

Obama

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, far right, makes an unscheduled visit at a meeting of the Council of Chief St...

Obama

President Barack Obama walks with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as they returned to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March...

Obama

President Barack Obama speaks, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, speaks during an unscheduled visit to a meeting of the Council ...

Obama

President Barack Obama walks on stage as he arrives to speak about education at the 19th Annual Legislative Conference of the United States Hispanic ...

Obama UN

National Security Adviser James Jones talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton inside the Oval Office of the White House while President ...

President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are seeking a stronger relationship between the world body and its single biggest financial backer.
Obama invited Ban to a White House meeting Tuesday to discuss a range of global security and development issues, marking the first meeting of the two leaders since Obama's inauguration in January.
The administration of President George W. Bush had for a long while had an adversarial relationship with the New York-based United Nations. But Obama's administration sees the U.N. "as an important venue and vehicle for the advancement of our national security and foreign policy goals," said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who is scheduled to attend the meeting in Washington.
A major point of discussion is likely to be the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, where the Sudanese president kicked out aid groups after an International Criminal Court arrest warrant charged him with war crimes. Other issues on the agenda are the global financial meltdown, an international climate treaty, poverty and human rights.
Earlier Tuesday, Obama promoted his education overhaul, saying that the United States had the makings of the best education system in the world but needed reform. Schools across the nation have been struggling as millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and state and local governments have seen tax revenues tighten.
"We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us," Obama said.
In what could prove a contentious stance, Obama embraced merit pay for teachers. Merit-based systems for teachers have for years been anathema to teachers' unions, a powerful force in the Democratic Party _ and a fact Obama acknowledged.
"Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom," he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency. "Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."
But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the U.S. education system is an economic imperative that can't wait.
Ban, who became U.N. secretary-general in January 2007, has promoted a good working relationship with the United States.
A month into his new job, Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, met Obama by chance aboard a shuttle flight to New York. It was the same month Obama declared his candidacy for president.
During much of Bush's tenure, the United States had a difficult relationship with the U.N., particularly when John Bolton was U.S. ambassador to the world body for 16 months in 2005-2006. Bolton pressed for sanctions against Iran and North Korea and a U.N. overhaul, antagonizing many U.N. member states.
But during the last two years of the Bush administration, Bolton's successor, the Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, became known as a gregarious and affable diplomat who improved relations somewhat.
The United States has agreed to pay nearly a quarter of the U.N.'s $4.86 billion operating budget, but is perennially late with its dues.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had her first meeting with Ban last week in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, on the sidelines of an international donor conference for rebuilding Gaza.
The U.S. and U.N., along with the European Union and Russia, also work together in a so-called Quartet of international mediators seeking to forge progress toward peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Ban used that occasion to press for additional cash for U.N. peacekeepers who have been stretched thin worldwide and for the United States to set an example in tackling global warming.
Clinton assured Ban he could count on U.S. leadership to reduce carbon dioxide, methane and other industrial gases that trap heat in the atmosphere like a greenhouse.
The U.N. chief's top priority this year is to encourage global leaders to adopt a new international climate treaty at a conference in December in Copenhagen.
___
Associated Press writers Steven R. Hurst in Washington and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-11-30 19:59 GMT+08:00