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Archive for Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama aims to bolster alliances overseas

March 29, 2009

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As President Barack Obama embarks on his first overseas trip as president, he is vowing to listen to his foreign counterparts and strengthen alliances when world powers meet in Europe this coming week to address the economic crisis and work to stem future financial catastrophes.

Obama’s jam-packed agenda includes a speech in France on the U.S. trans-Atlantic relationship. He’ll deliver another one in the Czech Republic on proliferation. Then he’s off to hold a roundtable in Turkey with students. He also has plans to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, as well as a slew of other heads of state as part of a rigorous schedule.

“It’s an opportunity ... to not just confront the inherited challenges that the administration took on, but also to re-energize our alliances to confront the looming threats of the 21st Century,” said Denis McDonough, the administration’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

While economics certainly will dominate discussions, advisers said nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, climate change, energy security, terrorism, and Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan also will be discussed at G-20, European Union and NATO gatherings.

Expected to be gone nearly a week, the president leaves Washington on Tuesday for London to take part in the economic summit of 20 major and developing nations that together represent more than 85 percent of the global economy. Advisers said the goal was to manage the current crisis by restoring growth and to prevent a future downturn by reforming financial regulations.

While in London, Obama plans meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Queen Elizabeth II, and Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Obama is also scheduled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Later in the week, Obama is slated to travel to Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, where he will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and participate in a NATO working group.

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