Sunday, March 29, 2009

Agenda for 1st foreign trip

WASHINGTON (AP) - PRESIDENT Barack Obama heads to London on Tuesday for his first overseas trip since taking office, to take part in the economic summit of 20 major and developing nations that together represent more than 85 per cent 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.

Mr Obama has vowed to listen to his foreign counterparts and lead by example to address the economic crisis and work to stem future financial catastrophes.

His jam-packed agenda includes a major speech in France on the US trans-Atlantic relationship. He will deliver another one in the Czech Republic on nuclear proliferation. Then he's off to hold a round-table 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 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 Mr Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan also will be discussed at G-20, European Union and NATO gatherings.

Thus far, Mr Obama's only foreign trip as president was a day-long visit to Canada.

As a White House candidate last summer, he traveled to the Middle East and Europe in what was then his first high-profile step onto the international stage. He drew huge crowds everywhere he went, including an enormous one estimated at more than 200,000 in Berlin.

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

Discussions are expected to be intense as there are wide differences between the US and Europe over how to stabilise and grow economies. -- AP

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