Thu, April 09, 2009
World > Americas > Obama's travel to Europe

A busy agenda fuels Obama's first trip to Europe

2009-03-31 10:42:20 GMT2009-03-31 18:42:20 (Beijing Time)

US President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, the US, Monday, March 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON -- In his first trip across the Atlantic, US President Barack Obama hopes to sway European allies that his young administration could improve the global economy and the United States' image.

Obama's eight-day, five-country trip was set to begin early Tuesday and send him to meet with European leaders who split with the United States over the war in Iraq and treatment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under President George W. Bush.

First up: a summit of the world's economic powers in London to address the global financial meltdown that has similarly defined the first two months of Obama's administration.

"The president and America are going to listen in London, as well as to lead," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The main event in London is Thursday's summit on the global financial crisis among the Group of 20 wealthy and developing nations that together represent 85 percent of the world's economy.

Economic growth elsewhere, though, also found spots on Obama's agenda. He planned to meet with leaders of Britain, Russia and China - major players in the US financial system. He also scheduled meetings with the leaders of India and South Korea while in London.

But money is not the sole agenda item. Obama plans to attend international summits on urgent topics, including the downward-spiraling fight against terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also will make his first stop in a Muslim nation, Turkey.

Wildly popular around the globe but relatively inexperienced in foreign affairs, Obama also will squeeze in a Buckingham Palace audience with Queen Elizabeth II, joined by his wife, Michelle; deliver a speech in France on the trans-Atlantic relationship; an address in the Czech Republic on weapons proliferation; and a round-table session with students in Turkey.

When Obama went to Europe last summer - he was a senator seeking the presidency - he was received like a rock star. His welcome this time is expected to be no less enthusiastic, given his early moves.

Since taking office, Obama has made down payments on several campaign promises that had endeared him to Europe, such as addressing global warming and moving to end the Iraq war and close the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Each had stoked acrimony toward his predecessor, President George W. Bush.


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