Washington briefing: Obama administration announces foreign travel plans

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday February 05, 2009

Obama with Sen. Dick Lugar on visit to Russia in 2005. Wikimedia photo.

Washington - Heeding a longstanding tradition, Barack Obama will make his first foreign trip as president to Canada, on February 19, a month after inauguration, spokesperson Robert Gibbs said last week. Other countries he is expected to visit in the first two to three months of his presidency are Mexico, the United Kingdom (for the April summit on the financial crisis) and a yet-to-be-determined Muslim country.

But Mr. Obama's immediate priorities are said to be domestic.

Vice President Joe Biden is set to play a prominent role on foreign policy matters in the meantime. He will be in Germany for the annual Munich Security Conference, February 6-8, focusing on Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Mr. Biden is expected to deliver a keynote address outlining the new administration's foreign policy priorities. He may also use the opportunity to talk with Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as well as the president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and other foreign leaders. Iran will be represented by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

According to an Armenian Reporter source, Armenia's President Serge Sargsian will also attend the Munich conference, while Azerbaijan and Georgia are sending foreign ministers.

It is so far unclear to which country Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit first, but with other top officials crowding Europe and the Middle East, media reports suggest a trip to East Asia.

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