CHICAGO (AP) - Leaders around the world flooded Barack Obama with congratulatory calls when he won the presidency last week. But they'll have to wait a while for personal visits.
The president-elect has no plans to meet with any foreign dignitaries when they travel to Washington this weekend for an economic summit hosted by President Bush.
Obama plans to stay in Chicago to prepare for January's transfer of power, even though Washington is a quick flight away and world leaders are clearly interested in his economic views. No meetings are scheduled in either city. Obama's aides plan to keep tabs on-and possibly participate in-the summit where world powers hope to craft remedies to the global financial crisis.
"We have one president at a time, and it's important that the president can speak for the United States at the summit," John Podesta, Obama's transition chief, told reporters Tuesday. Podesta, however, noted that Obama had urged such a summit during the presidential campaign.
Before the election, Bush announced that the world's 20 largest industrialized nations and emerging economies would meet in Washington this Saturday; Obama has consistently said not to expect his presence.
Advisers repeatedly stress that Obama won't be president until inaugurated on Jan. 20. Left unsaid are other possible motivations for him to stay in Chicago this weekend.
"He wants a clean, clear demarkation between the Bush administration and the Obama administration," said Thomas Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution public policy center.
Obama assailed Bush throughout his campaign for pushing "failed policies" and the Democrat pledged that he would bring a new direction after eight years of GOP rule. Obama will inherit the worst economic conditions in the United States since the Great Depression, and keeping some distance from Bush will allow him to chart his own economic course.
"The last thing he wants to do is get pulled into that summit and, more generally, be pulled into a situation where he's called upon to make early commitments and express opinions on matters before he's got his economic team fully together and before he has the authority of the office," Mann said.
Obama backs coordination between major economic powers to address the troubles. Campaigning in Richmond, Va., he said, "Our financial markets are so interwoven at this point, that we can't operate in isolation."
"I don't think it's going to be resolved in one meeting," he said of the global crisis.
Leaders attending the G-20 meeting are certainly interested in Obama's economic stance.
In phone calls last week, Obama accepted congratulations from leaders of countries including Canada, France, Italy, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Spain. The global financial crisis was among the topics he discussed with key U.S. allies.
The president-elect held his first news conference Friday after he and Vice President-elect Joe Biden met privately with economic advisers. Obama's message: "We are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we're going to have to act swiftly to resolve it."