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Foreign policy crises intrude on Obama vacations

August 11, 2014
Associated Press

CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) — Foreign policy crises have a way of intruding on President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacations.

Obama's last three summer sojourns to this Massachusetts 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. The president was to speak about the situation on the ground Monday afternoon from a podium set up at a house near his vacation rental.

Even before his remarks, Obama was briefed on developments by two of his top advisers and phone calls to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

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."

Obama was also likely to address the situation in Iraq during a Democratic fundraiser on the island Monday night. 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.

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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