Romney's international listening tour: England, Israel and Poland in six days

WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Mitt Romney embarks Tuesday on a six-day trip to England, Israel, and Poland, offering Americans a glimpse of how he might perform on the world stage if he's elected president.

The presumptive Republican nominee and former Massachusetts governor will meet with the leaders of all three countries, other government officials, opposition leaders, and at least one U.S. ambassador. He plans to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics, visit sites of historical significance, and hold public events in at least two of the countries.

Aides say Romney does not view the trip as an opportunity to roll out any new policy proposals. "This trip is an opportunity for the governor to listen and learn, to visit countries that share common values, common interests, and I should say in many cases shared heritage with people here in the United States," Romney's policy director, Lanhee Chen, told reporters in a conference call previewing the trip.

Romney does plan to lay out some of his foreign policy ideas in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual conference in Reno, Nev. on Tuesday, before leaving for London. While Romney is likely to highlight differences in his approach to international relations relative to Obama, he is expected to refrain from attacking Obama while traveling abroad.

Romney will not stop at either of America's war zones, Iraq or Afghanistan, a decision the campaign says was made in part because of time constraints. Romney did travel to Afghanistan in 2011 when he met with President Hamid Karzai and a range of U.S. officials, including General David Petraeus, who was then the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

Here's a look at each stop on Romney's upcoming trip:


Romney will attend the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, and will try to watch a few of the sporting events as well. Aides say Romney has been looking forward to this moment, pointing out his strong ties to the Olympic movement since he took over the struggling 2002 Salt Lake City games in 1999 and turned them into a success. Romney's wife, Ann, owns a horse that will compete in the dressage category of this year's Olympics, though Romney will not likely be able to attend that event.

Romney will also meet with British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne, foreign secretary William Hague, Labor Leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He'll also meet with former Prime Minister Tony Blair and may try to fit in meetings with other world leaders who are in town for the Olympics, if schedules can be coordinated.

Romney will also attend two fundraisers while in London with U.S. citizens who live abroad. According to The Washington Post, the hosts of the fundraisers are largely lobbyists and executives from financial institutions, some of which are tied to the Libor rate-fixing scandal. The New York Times reported that 11 members of Parliament, upset that some Barclay's bank executives were fundraising for Romney amid the scandal that has rocked their bank, signed a resolution calling on Barclay's executives to stop political fundraising and "concentrate entirely on repairing confidence and trust in the banking system instead."


Romney has been to Israel three times in the past, on a family visit in the late 1990s and, in 2007 and 2011, on fact-finding trips focused on security and economic issues.

On this trip, he'll meet first with Daniel Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who will give him a briefing. Romney will also meet with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and will also sit down with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He has met them all on previous trips.

While aides say Romney will not specifically criticize the president's Middle East policy while he is in Israel, he will continue to make the case for standing with Israel - as he often does on the campaign trail. "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" Dan Senor, a special adviser on foreign policy, told reporters in previewing Romney's message.

Romney will also have to walk a fine line should the topic of Syria arise. The New York Times reported that American officials held talks with Israeli defense officials this week over the possibility that Israel might attack Syrian weapons facilities in a pre-emptive move to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from using them against his own people. According to the Times, U.S. officials worry that such an attack could give Assad a mobilizing tool.


Romney's final destination is Poland, where he will meet with the current leadership, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Romney will also meet with Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize. Walesa, who was president from 1990 to 1995 and oversaw Poland's transition out of communism, was the one who invited Romney to visit his country.

Ian Brzezinski, another Romney adviser, said the visit to Poland will highlight an important alliance that is "rich in history" -- from Polish support for the American revolution all the way through Iraq and Afghanistan, where the country has sent troops to assist in the U.S.-led war efforts. Romney will also point to country's economic success, which he will say stems from free market principles and capitalism - the themes he pushes on the campaign trail at home.

"This is a country that stands in sharp contrast economically to the rest of Europe where economies are dropping by about 5% or more," Brzezinski told reporters.