President Obama Set To Begin ‘Charm Offensive’ In The Middle East


obama3President Barack Obama was scheduled to leave for the Middle East this evening. He’s on a mission to charm the Israelis into making peace concessions and to find some way to peacefully stop Iran from building a bomb.

However, as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, there is cynicism about what he can accomplish.

Even before Air Force One was to tale off for his first trip to Israel since taking office, President Obama was trying to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States is ready to resolve Iran’s nuclear threat peacefully.

“Now is the time for the Iranian government to take immediate and meaningful steps to reduce tensions and work toward and enduring, long-term settlement to the nuclear issue,” Obama said.

The president’s move came in a four-minute statement – with Persian subtitles – that attempted to go around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reach the Iranian people directly.

It’s the same strategy he wants to employ in Israel, an attempt to circumvent Netanyahu with a campaign-like speech to the Israeli people.

“This trip is a charm offensive to make Israelis like him,” said Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman.

Hoffman said Obama thinks he can win a Middle East peace settlement if Israelis pressure Netanyahu.

“He wants to move it forward, but he knows he can’t do it unless he is respected by Israelis,” Hoffman said.

This as a new Marist/McClatchy poll finds that voters here largely think the president’s visit will fall flat: 65 percent of voters in the United States say they do not think the trip will restart the peace talks. Another 27 percent say it will help, while 3 percent said it will make no difference.

Tri-State Area residents in Israel had some tough talk for the president and his peace initiative.

“I don’t know what he has to do with it. The Israelis and the Arabs will do it on their own,” said Ruth Berkovits of Lakewood, N.J.

Read more at CBS 2.

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