Mitt Romney Embarks on First Foreign Trip of His Candidacy

He will make stops in the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland on a six-day trip.

July 22, 2012, 11:00 AM

July 23, 2012— -- Mitt Romney will display his foreign policy prowess this week when he embarks on the first foreign trip of his candidacy, making stops in the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland on a six-day trip his staff describes as a learning opportunity, rather than an effort to define his foreign policy.

"There are a number of challenges the world faces today, and it's an opportunity for [Romney] to visit a country that each have a strong and important relationship with the United States," said policy director Lanhee Chen, adding that the trip will serve as a chance for Romney "to demonstrate a clear a resolute stand with nations that share our values and possess the fortitude to defend those values in the name of a more peaceful world."

"We don't anticipate that this is an opportunity for the governor to make any specific policy pronouncements," said Chen, who said specifics on his foreign policy would be outlined in more detail during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., on the eve of the trip overseas.

"He is really abroad to learn and to listen. There will be other opportunities for the governor to articulate additional policy prescriptions and foreign policy."

While much of Romney's itinerary is already being compared with that of then-candidate Obama, the president will not be a focal point of Romney's trip, Chen said, clarifying that contrast between the president's foreign policies and Romney's will be "kept here in the states."

Here's a look at how Romney will spend his time overseas:

First stop: London

The highlight of Romney's stop in the United Kingdom will be attending the Olympic Opening Ceremonies Friday. Romney, who ran the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, will also attend other Olympic events while in London with his wife, Ann, who will remain at the games to watch her dressage horse compete.

But the couple of days Romney spends in London , the candidate arriving Wednesday, will also be filled with a series of meetings with British officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne and foreign Secretary William Hague. He will also meet with the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Ed Milliband, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as well as former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Aides to Romney said that while several other heads of state will be in London at the same time for the Olympics, they are still working to see whether "schedules will sync up" and allow for additional meetings with leaders from other countries that Romney won't be visiting on this trip. Romney will attend several fundraisers while in London as well.

Second stop: Israel

The second leg of Romney's trip will begin Saturday, when the candidate arrives in Israel, his fourth trip to the Middle Eastern country. The highlight of this portion of the trip is a major speech in Jerusalem, which aides say will "project Gov. Romney's strong view that America needs to stand by its allies, particularly allies that are under siege like Israel, particularly democratic allies who have such a shared history and shared values with America."

In addition to a number of public events in Israel, Romney will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with whom he has a long personal history as well as President Shimon Peres. Meetings with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will also meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.

Romney is expected to stop by the major monuments in Israel as well, including the Western Wall. He will also attend a small fundraiser.

Third stop: Poland

Romney's third and final stop of the trip comes at the invitation of former Polish President Lech Walesa. The meeting between Romney and Walesa will take place in Gdansk, before the candidate moves to Warsaw for more meetings and another keynote speech. Romney is also expected to visit historical sites throughout Poland.

He will also meet with the leadership of the Polish government, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

An aide to Romney noted Poland's strong economy as one of several reasons for the visit.

"Poland's success, of course, is rooted in its principles of free market and the economies and capitalism," Romney foreign policy adviser Ian Brzezinski said.

No Stop in Afghanistan Expected

One place Romney won't go during the trip is Afghanistan, aides citing "time constraints" that proved too tight to make a trip to the region work. Romney was last in the region in 2011 when he met with President Hamid Karzai, but has since been criticized during his presidential campaign for being vague about his own policy plan when it comes to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Romney, who famously called the Obama administration's decision to announce its military plans to the world "misguided" and "naïve," has himself offered no concrete details on what he would do in the region other than seek advice from generals on the ground.