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Obama takes a detour from campaigning

Obama jumps between campaign trail and world stage as he addresses the simmering crisis of Muslim protests.

United States President Barack Obama. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - President Barack Obama will step onto the world stage on Tuesday just long enough to address simmering crises centred on Iran, Syria and the broader Muslim world - and he will then jump quickly back on the campaign trail.

In a speech at the United Nations exactly six weeks before the US election, Obama will seek to reassure American voters as well as world leaders that they can count on him to handle the latest global challenges, even as Republican challenger Mitt Romney seizes the chance to pan his foreign policy.

Obama will talk tough with nuclear-defiant Iran, take Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to task for efforts to crush an 18-month uprising and reflect on a recent eruption of violent anti-American protests in Muslim countries, aides say.

But he is not expected to offer any new solutions to problems that have cast a cloud over this week's high-level gathering at the UN General Assembly and now threaten to chip away at a foreign policy record his aides hoped would be immune to Republican attack.

With campaign pressures building in a close race, Obama's final turn on the world stage before facing voters has left little doubt about his immediate priorities.

He skipped the customary one-on-one meetings with foreign counterparts but went ahead with the taping of a campaign-style appearance on the popular television talk show "The View" - a tradeoff that drew Republican criticism.

Obama planned to be in and out of New York in 24 hours, one of the briefest presidential visits to the annual UN session in recent memory, and he will be off to the election battleground state of Ohio on Wednesday.

Despite Obama's latest international woes, administration officials are heartened by Romney's own recent foreign-policy stumbles and doubt the president's critics will gain traction in a campaign that remains focused mainly on the US economy.

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