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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Details of Obama's Trip Released

An Osprey plane carrying Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack
Obama (D-Ill.) arrives at Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan, July 22, 2008.

By Dan Balz
AMMAN -- Now that Barack Obama is on his way out of Iraq, his campaign advisers have released details of his schedule for the rest of his trip to the Middle East and Europe.

Obama is scheduled to leave Iraq Tuesday morning and arrive in Jordan early Tuesday afternoon (still morning Washington time). He will hold his first news conference of the trip outdoors, at the historic Citadel, which overlooks the city of Amman and was selected for its visual backdrop.

Although technically his tour switches from an official congressional delegation to a campaign trip once he arrives in Jordan, Obama will be joined at the news conference by Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the two senators he's been traveling with in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Later Tuesday, Obama will meet one-on-one with Jordan's King Abdullah II. The meeting will be followed by a dinner that will include Hagel and Reed; Daniel Rubenstein, the deputy U.S. chief of mission in Jordan; and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, an Obama adviser. The Jordanian delegation will include the king, his wife, Queen Rania and three senior government officials.

King Abdullah was in the United States on Monday speaking in Aspen, Col., and was scheduled to arrive back in Jordan shortly before his meeting with Obama.

Obama is scheduled to leave Jordan Tuesday night for Israel, where he has a full day of events and meetings on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, he'll meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netyanhu in Jerusalem. After a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, he will then meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The rest of his day includes a visit to Ramallah, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Another stop will be the town of Sderot, one of the most heavily shelled cities in Israel. His day will conclude with an evening meeting with embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Obama leaves Israel early Thursday for Berlin. There he'll meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Merkel was publicly critical of the campaign's consideration of staging its major public event of the seven-nation trip at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, where Presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy have appeared in the past. The campaign has since moved the event to the Victory Column in Tiergarten park, although the Brandenburg Gate will be visible from that site.

Campaign officials described the evening event as a substantive speech about the future of relations between Europe and the United States. The event is open to the public and is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Although campaign officials maintained that the event is not a campaign rally, it will certainly look like one and it's possible footage of the event will show up in future Obama campaign commercials.

On Friday, Obama will fly to Paris for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, then continue on to London later that night. His trip concludes with a series of meetings in London that will include Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former prime minister Tony Blair and Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

While in London, Obama will tape an interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw for Sunday's edition of "Meet The Press." He is scheduled to return to Chicago late Saturday.

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