WASHINGTON — Barack Obama will travel to Israel, Jordan, France, Germany and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks, his campaign announced Saturday.
The much-anticipated foreign trip is intended "to assess the situation in countries that are critical to American national security," the campaign said in a statement. His agenda for meetings with leaders in those countries will be terrorism, nuclear proliferation and global warming.
The proposed trip skips Iraq, the source of the most pronounced differences between Obama and his Republican rival for the White House, John McCain. McCain, who has visited Iraq six times and is an ardent supporter of the U.S. presence there, has urged Obama to visit the country.
Obama's campaign says he plans to visit Iraq during the summer or fall, but as part of a congressional delelgation and not as a campaign related trip.
The timing of Obama's campaign travel was not released.
McCain on numerous occasions has said he has more international experience than Obama, and the Obama travel abroad is in part intended to show that he is comfortable meeting with foreign officials. International polls show also that Obama is far more popular than McCain and that is also likely to be on display as he travels
In a statement Obama explained the reasoning behind the itinerary.
"Israel is a strong and close friend of the United States, and is confronting grave threats from Gaza to Tehran," the statement said. "Jordan has been a close partner in the peace process and a host of other issues of common concern. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are key anchors of the transatlantic alliance and have contributed to the mission in Afghanistan, and I look forward to discussing how we can strengthen our partnership in the years to come."