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For Obama, diplomacy gets back seat to campaign

7:16 AM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
President Obama leaves Tampa after a brief appearance at a fundraiser in Palma Cieia
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(CBS News) UNITED NATIONS HEADQUATERS, New York - President Obama arrived in New York Monday afternoon for the United Nations General Assembly. One of the main topics of discussion at this annual meeting will be the recent unrest outside U.S. embassies in the Muslim world, including an attack in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of four Americans. But unlike years past, the president will not be sitting down with any of the more than 120 world leaders who are here in New York.

Simply put, the White House is prioritizing the president's reelection effort. Most heads of state will be here all week, but the president will be in New York less than 24 hours, and even then will spend most of his time away from this conference.

After landing in New York Monday afternoon, the president headed straight for a sit-down -- not with visiting leaders, but with the ladies of "The View," for an interview to air tomorrow.

Last year at the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama held 13 one-on-one meetings with major leaders.

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But this year diplomacy is taking a back seat to campaigning, despite a worsening civil war in Syria, rising tensions between Israel and Iran, and the recent attack in Libya.

In the president's absence, it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who met with Libya's president Monday, as well as the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The president and the Libyan government have been staunch partners to the United States," Clinton said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed out Mr. Obama is hosting two receptions for world leaders tonight, and speaks with them on the phone all the time.

"The fact of the matter is, the president does not wait for an annual meeting to have consultations with or meetings with foreign leaders, and they will continue," Carney said.

The president will lay out a set of priorities for the U.N. General Assembly in a speech Tuesday morning, but he flies back to Washington a few hours later and then makes a campaign trip to Ohio on Wednesday.

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