U.N. General Assembly

President Barack Obama heads to New York City this Tuesday to attend the 69th Session of the U.N. General Assembly.  The President will address the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Iraq/Syria Crises

This Wednesday in New York City, President Obama will also chair a UNSC meeting on foreign terrorist fighters. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill last week that also provides short-term authorization for the U.S. military to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. Last Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry chaired a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Iraq. France joined U.S. efforts to combat ISIL last Friday, conducting its first airstrikes in Iraq against the insurgency.

Ebola Crisis

On 16 September, President Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. In a speech at the CDC, President Obama said,

“Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before. It’s spiraling out of control.”

He declared the crisis a national security priority and authorized the deployment of 3,000 U.S. troops to West Africa. This Thursday, 25 September, President Obama will deliver remarks at a United Nations meeting on the Ebola epidemic.

Iran

U.S. officials reported last week that initial conversations of the resumed P5+1 Talks with Iran demonstrate promise for continued discussions this week in New York City. The P5+1 are seeking to find a long-term solution with Iran to address Iran’s nuclear program in advance of the upcoming Joint Plan of Action deadline (24 November). While President Obama currently is currently not scheduled to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, he is reportedly open to such a meeting.

Russia/Ukraine Crisis

In his address before a joint session of Congress last Thursday, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said,

“I strongly encourage the United States to give Ukraine a special security and defense status which reflect the highest level of interaction with non-NATO allies.  And I also ask that the United States be forceful and stand by its principles with the respect of further sanction against the aggressor.”

He also requested lethal and non-lethal assistance from the United States. That afternoon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) markup of S. 2828 – the Ukraine Freedom Support Act – advanced by a vote of 18-0 out of Committee. While SFRC Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) indicated the House is waiting for the bill, Congress recessed and is not expected to return to Washington until after the 4 November midterm elections. S. 2828 could be one of many bills expected to be addressed during the “lame duck” session of Congress; at which time, the dynamics on the ground in Ukraine could be very different and could further change the content of the bill.

President Obama met with President Poroshenko Thursday afternoon at the White House to discuss finding a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine, as well as U.S. continued support for Ukraine’s struggle to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The White House announced the United States would provide $53 million in new security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and said a U.S. team will travel to Kyiv this week to discuss energy-saving steps Ukraine could institute in order to avoid significant energy issues this winter.  U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will also lead a U.S. Government delegation to Ukraine (26-27 September) to meet with senior Ukrainian government and business leaders and discuss Ukrainian economic reform efforts. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the tenuous 5 September Minsk ceasefire continues to hold, despite ongoing, reported exchanges of fire by both sides.

Trade

This week USTR Ambassador Michael Froman will meet with Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari to discuss the remaining bilateral agriculture and automotive issues that are holding up the overall Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reported the next TTIP negotiating round will be in Chevy Chase, Maryland, later this month (29 September – 3 October). In previewing his November agenda last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) made no mention of a bill to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or any other trade legislation.

Nominations/Confirmations

Last week, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Brian James Egan to be Legal Adviser (State Department).  He also announced the following individuals as nominees to be U.S. Ambassadors:  Maria Echaveste (Mexico); Richard Rahul Verma (India); Paul Folmsbee (Mali); and Mary Catherine Phee (South Sudan. Prior to recessing, the Senate confirmed Robert Holleyman to be Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.