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Obama to chair landmark UN nuclear summit

world Updated: Sep 20, 2009 07:36 IST

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US President Barack Obama chairs an unprecedented summit at the UN Security Council on Thursday to rally world support for nuclear non-proliferation and advance nuclear disarmament.

The summit -- the first time the 15-member council will be chaired by an American president -- comes as world powers step up efforts to curb Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions just as the US and Russia have pledged to cut their own nuclear arsenals.

Obama, who has set combating nuclear proliferation as a priority and is committed, unlike his predecessor George W Bush, to pursue a multilateral course, will chair the meeting as his country holds the rotating presidency of the council this month.

Prior to the summit, the US president will make his United Nations debut this week, attending a climate change summit hosted by UN chief Ban Ki-moon Tuesday.

He will then step into the fray of high-stakes Middle East diplomacy by hosting a trilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to spur them to resume stalled peace talks.

As the UN General Assembly kicks off its general debate on Wednesday, Obama will deliver his maiden speech to the 192-member body and will be immediately followed at the rostrum by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, who is visiting UN headquarters for the first time in his 40 years in power.