Foreign policy crisis intrudes on Obama vacation

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

CHILMARK, Massachusetts (AP) — President Barack Obama spent part of his vacation Monday on foreign policy, speaking on the phone with the leaders of Italy and Ukraine and getting briefed by his national security team on the developments in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza, the White House said.

Two top Obama foreign policy advisers — national security adviser Susan Rice and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes — traveled with the president during his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.

The White House said Obama spoke separately Monday with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Obama’s call with the Ukrainian leader comes amid Russia’s announcement that it will send a humanitarian convoy into Ukraine, a move the West strongly opposes. The White House said Obama and Poroshenko agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine without formal consent and authorization of that country’s government “would be unacceptable and a violation of international law.”

The president also likely to address the situation in Iraq at a Democratic fundraiser Monday evening. The U.S. military launched airstrikes against militant targets in Iraq for the fourth day in a row, as Iraq’s new president announced a new nominee for prime minister — a move that marked a snub for incumbent Nouri al-Maliki.

Foreign policy crises have a way of intruding on Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard vacations.

Obama’s last three summer sojourns to the island have coincided with tumult primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as elsewhere around the world.

In 2011, the president’s golf outings and beach time were interrupted by briefings and calls to foreign leaders as opposition fighters in Libya gained against the government of Moammar Gadhafi. After skipping vacation while running for re-election in 2012, Obama returned to Martha’s Vineyard in 2013 for a trip that coincided with the Egyptian military’s ouster of that country’s first democratically elected leader.

And this year, Obama is vacationing against the backdrop of U.S. airstrikes and political chaos in Iraq, along with tensions between Israel and Hamas and between Russia and Ukraine.

But as with past vacations, Obama has still found plenty of time to put work aside and enjoy the island. He’s already played two rounds of golf since arriving Saturday, and on Monday he headed to the beach with his family.

 

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