President Obama to Urge European Unity in 4-Day Trip to Poland and Spain
President Obama is attending the NATO Summit and visiting troops in Spain.
July 8, 2016, 8:30 AM
• 5 min read
Warsaw, Poland -- President Obama has arrived in Warsaw for a four-day trip to Poland and Spain, where he will be meeting with key European allies as the continent still reels from the U.K.'s "Brexit" vote two weeks ago.
The president's first stop is in Warsaw, where he will attend the fifth and final NATO Summit of his presidency. The White House said Wednesday the trip could very well be Obama's last in-person visit to Europe as president.
While the NATO Summit is often a chance for European leaders to negotiate security posture and coordinate a response to aggressive Russian behavior, the summit has taken on a whole new meaning of unity in the wake of the U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union.
Twenty-two of the 28 heads of state and government attending the summit are EU members, including the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron, whom the White House said will be meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the summit.
"Part of what we’ll want to discuss is how we can continue to work with our British allies and our European allies to help provide a commitment to ensuring financial stability at this particular time," said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. "And working together to support global economic growth, and to combat any headwinds that might be amplified by their recent vote."
Also on the agenda is NATO's Operation Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, coming just two days after Obama announced that 8,400 U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan through the end of 2016 in response to a resurgent Taliban that is destabilizing the area.
The NATO leaders are also expected to announce new initiatives to mitigate the effects of the refugee crisis and an expanded training role in assisting the Iraqi troops in their fight against ISIS.
Always following Obama on his foreign trips, whether he likes it or not, is the 2016 election. Obama has said in the past that world leaders wary of Donald Trump's popularity have repeatedly approached him with concerns about his campaign's rhetoric. Those concerns will likely be front and center again in Obama's meetings with leaders concerned by the surprise results in the Brexit referendum.
Following two days heavy with national security meetings, President Obama will travel to Seville, Spain where he will take in the sights of some of the city's cultural landmarks.
Obama will then visit the U.S. Navy base in Rota where he will deliver remarks to American service members and their families and tour the USS Ross destroyer. Afterwards, he heads to Madrid, where he will visit the U.S. embassy.
CSIS Director of the Europe Program Heather Conley noted Wednesday the first lady and her daughters Malia and Sasha just arrived back from Spain, where it is rumored that Malia will be spending her gap year.
"I think the president needs to make sure a very special intern is settled in Madrid," Conley said.
On his final day, he will hold meetings with Spain’s leadership, including a visit to the lavish Royal Palace for an afternoon and "gift exchange" with King Felipe and Queen Letizia.