Obama making a habit of not taking Clinton along

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Washington, July 10 (ANI): By the time President Obama returns from Ghana, the last stop on his latest three-country tour, he will have visited nine countries without Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According to Fox News, when the president travels out of country, his secretary of state customarily follows, but such is not the case with Clinton.

Clinton has accompanied Obama on several key international visits this year, including Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago, but the fact is that Obama has spent far more time than his predecessors without his foreign policy point person.

Some analysts say this could be a product of Obama's acute interest in diplomacy and international affairs, or perhaps his wariness to promote on the world stage a former rival whose star power could detract from his.

"Whenever the president is on foreign travel, it's typical that the secretary of state would travel with the president," said a former top State Department official in the Bush administration.

"It seems that (Clinton has) had a bit lower profile over the past couple months as opposed to when she entered office," he added.

The former official said Clinton entered the post with the "widest public recognition" of any secretary of state, but that she's since drifted more into the background.

"That could be by design, on her part or his part," the official said.

Aides to both Clinton and Obama took pains to describe the close working relationship between the two, citing Clinton's attendance at weekly meetings with Obama and Vice President Biden and her participation in other meetings the president holds with foreign leaders.

Recently, Clinton's absence on the world stage can be attributed in part to her broken elbow.

The State Department announced last week she wouldn't be going to Russia either, where Obama was meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, before heading to Italy and then Ghana.

Aides said she had used her personal relationship with Russia's foreign minister to shape this week's summit but that the injury prevented her from attending.

Kelly called the injury a "serious break" and said she was spending some time working at home to recover.

Contrast this with the last four secretaries of state, who were pretty much buddy-buddy with the president overseas during their first six months on the job -- whether the president traveled a lot, or a little.

-- Secretary of State Warren Christopher accompanied Clinton on all three foreign trips the president took in the first half of 1993.

-- Albright and Clinton hit up a whopping nine countries together during their first six months together. Clinton did veer off on his own to visit former Prime Minister Tony Blair in Britain and later to visit Denmark dignitaries.

-- Secretary of State Colin Powell tagged along with President George W. Bush on three foreign trips in their first six months, with Bush going on his own once to Britain.

-- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made three separate European tours with Bush after she took her post in the first half of 2005. In July, Bush took a solo trip to Scotland and Denmark. But Rice accompanied Bush on every trip after that for the rest of the year, through South America and then through Asia.

Clinton and Obama aren't quite as tight. She did not accompany Obama on his first foreign trip in office to Canada. She was on a multi-country tour through Asia at the time.

She later met up with Obama in April for stops in three European countries, but left when Obama headed to Turkey -- his first visit as president to a Muslim country.

She met up with Obama again later that month for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, after the president made a solo stop in Mexico while Clinton went to Haiti and the Dominican Republican.

And she joined him in Cairo, Egypt, in early June for one day, in the middle of Obama's Middle Eastern and European tour. Obama had already visited Saudi Arabia, and then went on to Germany and France without her. Clinton had spent three days prior to the president's departure in El Salvador and Honduras.

Like her predecessors, Clinton has kept a vigorous international schedule of her own.

She's visited Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Central America, as well as Canada and Mexico, on her own time.

Clinton plans to head to India on a separate trip late next week. To mark her first six months on the job, she is also scheduled to deliver a major policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (ANI)

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