Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, right, shakes hands with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after a meeting at his Park Avenue offices, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
By Stefanie Balogh in New York
REPUBLICAN vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is to take her first tentative steps on to the world stage, at UN talks with the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
John McCain’s selection of Ms Palin has been criticised due to her lack of foreign affairs experience.
The Alaskan Governor, who describes herself as a hockey mum and a pit bull with lipstick, has argued that she is ready for the world’s second most powerful job, despite never having met a foreign head of state before today.
She got her first passport last year.
Ms Palin defended her national security credentials in a television interview this month, during which she said she had insight into Russia because “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska”.
Today, Ms Palin will receive a crash course in international affairs from Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State to Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
He is renowned for pioneering “shuttle diplomacy”.
After being prepped, Ms Palin will hold high-level talks with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Afghan President Hamid Karzai who are in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
The day after she will have a joint meeting with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko, before meeting separately with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
One of the highlights will be a meeting with Bono, lead singer of U2, who has become a global spokesman for humanitarian causes.
But perhaps Palin needed some worldly advice to come a bit sooner – in a move which is likely to alienate her from media across the globe, the vice presidential nominee has banned reporters from attending the meetings, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew.
CNN, which was providing the television coverage for news organisations, decided to pull its TV crew, effectively denying Palin the high visibility she had sought.
Earlier, former US President Democrat Bill Clinton, said he understands why Ms Palin is popular in the American heartland: because people relate to her.
“I come from Arkansas. I get why she’s hot out there, why she’s doing well,” he said.