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Obama Pushes U.N. on Mideast Peace; Tensions Rise in China-Japan Dispute

President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

President Obama shakes hands with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The president will address the General Assembly and world leaders on Thursday. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

In a speech to the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, President Obama will try to rally the world around the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, challenging the U.N. to support an agreement that would create an independent Palestine and a secure Israel in a year’s time.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to end talks if Israel does not extend a moratorium on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank set to expire next week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not extend the freeze.

You can read sections of President Obama’s address here.

President Obama will also meet privately with the leaders of China and Japan, who are currently at odds over Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain.

Tension in the dispute were raised Thursday, when the Chinese government blocked exports to Japan of a crucial category of minerals used in products like hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided missiles. The New York Times reports that “Chinese customs officials are halting shipments to Japan of so-called rare earth elements, preventing them from being loaded aboard ships this week at Chinese ports.”

President Obama will also meet with leaders from Colombia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan; host Southeast Asian leaders; and attend a meeting aimed at preventing renewed civil war in Sudan.

The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson assesses the president’s foreign policy record one year after his highly-anticipated first address at U.N. and winning the Nobel Peace Prize:

“[Last year] Obama proposed a ‘new era of engagement’ to address nuclear nonproliferation, peace and security, climate change and the global economy — issues he described as ‘fundamental to the future that we want for our children.’ Less than three weeks later he won the Nobel Peace Prize, an award his critics suggested signaled a triumph of anticipation over accomplishment….Now, as Obama prepares for his second General Assembly address, his record in meeting those high expectations, beyond merely changing the tone of U.S. foreign policy, is open for debate.”

Small Business Bill Headed for Vote

A bill to help small businesses with easier credit and other incentives to expand and hire new workers is slated for a House vote Thursday. The bill would establish a $30 billion fund to help banks lend to credit-starved small businesses. It also would cut their taxes and boost Small Business Administration loan programs.

Initial Jobless Claims Rise

The tally of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time in five weeks. Initial claims for jobless aid rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 465,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Many economists had expected a flat reading or small drop, reports the Associated Press.

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