21 January 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to tackle foreign policy issues on his first full day in office. Mr. Obama will likely address the Middle East crisis and other world issues on Wednesday.
After almost two years of campaigning, a 78-day presidential transition period and a day of speeches, parades and balls, President Obama is ready for his first full day on the job, Wednesday.
He signaled in his inaugural speech on Tuesday that his first focus will likely be foreign policy.
"Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more," he said.
Published reports quote aides as saying one of Mr. Obama's first actions will be to name former U.S. Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy.
During the transition, the president-elect remained silent about world affairs, deferring to the Bush administration. But as president, Mr. Obama seems to be indicating that he plans to move quickly to work with Israel and the Palestinians toward peace.
Later on Wednesday, the new president is expected to meet with his National Security Council to start reevaluating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout the presidential campaign, candidate Obama promised a 16-month withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq and a new look at how the war in Afghanistan is being fought.
By the end of the day, Mr. Obama might have a secretary of state. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon on Hillary Clinton's nomination as the country's top diplomat.
Shortly after Mr. Obama became president, the Senate approved six members of his Cabinet, but delayed for one day a vote on Clinton. Republican Senator John Cornyn said he had concerns about foreign donations to the foundation led by Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The economic crisis will also receive Mr. Obama's attention on Wednesday. He is expected to meet with his economic advisers and issue new regulations, forcing institutions that receive government rescue money to be more transparent about how it is spent.
Within days, Mr. Obama is expected to issue an executive order to start the process of closing the controversial military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to make plans for moving the detainees elsewhere.
The new president is also expected to restore U.S. government funding for family-planning programs overseas and reverse the Bush administration's restrictions on federal spending for embryonic stem cell research.