(STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago - US President-elect Barack Obama will have no time to meet with President Arroyo when she goes to the US next week for a United Nations special session.

Obama will most likely not have the time to meet foreign leaders during the UN meeting due to his tight schedule organizing his Cabinet and making the necessary preparations for his assumption of office on Jan. 20, 2009, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said in an interview over radio dzBB.

In her visit last June, Mrs. Arroyo also failed to meet Obama because of his tight campaign schedule.

“I think it’s unlikely. At least what I know as of now (is that) President-elect Obama is not looking to meet with foreign leaders,” Kenney said.

According to Kenney, she told Mrs. Arroyo yesterday that the US is not accepting any request to meet Obama when she briefed the President on the results of the US elections.

“I told her what we know as of now, they are not accepting any requests for meetings,” Kenney said.

Malacańang said on Wednesday that the President will try to meet the new US President when she attends the special session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Nov. 12-13.

In another radio interview, Kenney said no major changes are expected in the US political structure under an Obama presidency.

“Between now and Jan. 20 we still have President Bush, his team, the same Congress and they have a lot of work to do. They’re looking at the financial stimulus package, so the new team will be using that time to organize themselves,” Kenney said over dzMM.

“Senator Obama will pick his new Cabinet members so I don’t expect major changes. And if you’ve seen President Bush’s statement, he said that between now and Jan. 20 he’ll be working with the President-elect to make sure that major decisions are made jointly,” she said.

Kenney stressed that the new US President is taking office at a difficult time because of tough challenges that cannot be solved overnight.

Meantime, Kenney said no major changes are expected in the US partnership, development assistance and security relationship with the Philippines under the leadership of Obama.

She said Obama has been a member of the US Senate foreign relations committee and he knows very well the partnership and assistance of the US government to the Philippines.

“I don’t expect major changes. Remember President-elect Obama has been a member of the US Senate. He has been in the Senate foreign relations committee so he knows very well the work we do here, our partnership, our development assistance, our security relationship and so I don’t expect there to be major changes,” Kenney said.

She said the two countries have a great government-to-government relationship and the personal relationship of President Arroyo and Obama is expected to continue.

“When President Arroyo was in the US she talked (over the phone) to then candidate Obama and so I think they already established a personal relationship. We’ll see that grow and continue as well,” she added.

When asked if Washington will now be less confrontational, Kenney said the US is not confrontational and Obama has promised to reach out to countries.

“The global financial crisis has really shown everyone has to work together. We all rise or fall as one and the collaboration on that is really important, so I think we’ll see a President reaching out to make friends across America and to all our friends in the world,” Kenney said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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