Obama vacation includes foreign policy briefings, calls with leaders of Italy and Ukraine

Julie Pace / The Associated Press
August 11, 2014 09:26 AM

President Barack Obama approaches a green while golfing at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. President Obama fled Washington for his familiar spot on Martha's Vineyard for a two-week summer vacation. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

CHILMARK, Mass. - President Barack Obama spent much of his vacation Monday on foreign policy, speaking on the phone with the leaders of Italy and Ukraine and addressing the situation in Iraq in two separate appearances.

Two top Obama foreign policy advisers — national security adviser Susan Rice and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes — travelled with the president during his vacation.

The U.S. military launched airstrikes against militant targets in Iraq for the fourth day in a row. Also, Iraq's new president has announced a new nominee for prime minister — a move that marked a snub for incumbent Nouri al-Maliki.

The president spoke about the situation on the ground Monday afternoon from a podium set up at a house near his vacation rental and again at a Democratic fundraiser in a nearby town that night.

"We're seeing around the world incredible challenges, many of them all coming to a head at the same time," he told donors gathered under a tent on an expansive lawn overlooking the water. But he said the crises underscore the degree to which "people are constantly interested in finding out how America can solve these problems."

Earlier, 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 White House said Obama and Renzi discussed the situations in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine, along with the Ebola outbreak in the West Africa. The White House said Renzi expressed support for the U.S. efforts in Iraq.

On Libya, both leaders "emphasized their support for the democratically-elected Council of Representatives and the need to encourage full participation by all elected members while working to end the fighting between militias."

Obama has still found plenty of time to put work aside and enjoy the island during his vacation. 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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Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Chilmark contributed to this report. Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC


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