Page last updated at 21:44 GMT, Saturday, 16 May 2009 22:44 UK

Obama to visit Russia and Ghana

Barack Obama in Washington, 13 May 2009
Barack Obama has yet to flesh out his policy for Africa

US President Barack Obama is to make a week-long foreign tour in July that will include Russia, Italy and Ghana, the White House says.

Mr Obama will be in Moscow on 6-8 July for talks that are expected to cover efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles and non-proliferation.

From Russia he will head to the Group of Eight summit in Italy.

He will then travel to the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on his first trip as president to sub-Saharan Africa.

There had been speculation that Mr Obama's first presidential trip to the continent might be to Kenya, home to the president's late father.

The White House said the visit to Russia would provide the chance to deepen engagement on issues including missile defence and security challenges.

'Promoting development'

Mr Obama and his Russian counterpart Dimitry Medvedev had a good first meeting in Europe last month, agreeing to work together to reduce their countries' nuclear arsenal, the BBC's Kim Ghattas reports from Washington.

But a recent thaw has been complicated by a spy scandal at the Nato headquarters and Nato military exercises in Georgia, she adds.

The G8 summit for the world's leading industrialised nations will take place in the central Italian town of L'Aquila, which was struck by a major earthquake in April.

Mr Obama is due to chair a meeting on energy and climate change at the summit, which runs from 10-12 July.

In Ghana, the White House said Mr Obama and his wife looked forward "to strengthening the US relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa".

During the visit Mr Obama hopes to highlight the "critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development", the White House said.

Correspondents say that Mr Obama, preoccupied with foreign policy challenges elsewhere in the world, has not yet articulated a detailed policy for Africa.

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