Entries in Europe (4)


Joe Biden's Million Dollar Nights in London & Paris

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe last month led to a hefty tab with over one million dollars dedicated to securing hotels for himself, staff and security for two nights in London and Paris, government documents show.

As first reported by The Weekly Standard, documents show that the U.S. government obtained contracts with two five star hotels in London and Paris where the vice president stayed for two nights during a five day tour of Europe last month.

One contract was awarded to the Hyatt Regency London for a total of $459,338.65 while another contract was given to the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand for $585,000.50

While the figure may be eye popping, a State Department official said these costs are par for the course in high-level international trips as they also include staff, security details and military personnel.

“These costs are nothing out of the ordinary. They are in line with high level travel across multiple administrations,” the State Department official said.  “The contract costs cover the entire range of support, including accommodations for military, communications, secret service staff, and other support professionals.  Security experts are also required to travel in advance of the President or Vice President. Safety and security are not negotiable.”

A 1999 GAO report showed that trips President Bill Clinton took to Africa, Chile and China in 1998 cost $42.8 million, $10.5 million, and $18.8 million dollars, respectively – adding up to over $72 million.  1302 travelers were on the trip to Africa while 592 and 510 people were on the trips to Chile and China, respectively.

The White House normally does not disclose the amount paid for the vice president and president’s travel.  Last year, an Air Force official told ABC News that one hour of flying time aboard Air Force One totaled $179,750 in FY2012.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would not reveal how much the president’s day trip to Illinois earlier this month would cost when asked about it by ABC News’ White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“I don't have a figure on the cost of presidential travel.  It is obviously something, as every president deals with because of security and staff, a significant undertaking,” Carney said. “But the President has to travel around the country.  He has to travel around the world.  That is part of his job.”

In an interview during the campaign last year, President Obama said the decisions about travel are not up to him when he was asked if he was out of touch with ordinary Americans if his family is “jetting around” on Air Force One.

"The fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I'm raising a family here. When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that's not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people," Obama told KMOV of St Louis.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


President Obama Heads to France for G8 Summit

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(DEAUVILLE, France) -- After spending two days in London, President Obama will continue his European trip Thursday in Deauville, France, where he will attend the G8 summit.

Before the summit, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Medvedev at the Hotel Royal Barriere in Deauville.

"One of the core foreign policy objectives when we came into office was the Russia reset," Deputy National Security Advisors for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes said. "It has been one of the most productive relationships for the United States in terms of the signing and ratification of the new START treaty, cooperation on nuclear security, cooperation with regard to Iran sanctions and nonproliferation generally, the Northern Distribution Network into Afghanistan that supports our effort there, and our discussions with Russia about expanding trade ties and their interest in joining the WTO, as well as Russia's increased cooperation with NATO that was manifested by the NATO-Russia meetings in Lisbon."

Afterward, President Obama will be officially welcomed by French President Sarkozy, the host of the summit in his country.  The leaders will then attend G8 working sessions in the afternoon.

In the G8 meetings there will be a discussion of the situation in Japan, "expressing solidarity with the people of Japan, and a discussion of nuclear safety, nuclear power safety more generally," Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs said.

There will be a discussion of the global economy and "the situation of the global recovery and risks to that global recovery, as well a dialogue around trade and climate change and advancing those agendas."

Obama will then hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kan at the Hotel Royal Barriere where they will discuss Japan's post-earthquake recovery.

Obama will wrap up his day attending a dinner with G8 leaders at Le Ciro's Barriere Restaurant.  He will spend the night in Deauville.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cursed Travel? Obama's Trips Plagued by Mother Nature

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(LONDON) -- President Obama is in Europe this week to discuss economic and security issues, but his long-planned voyage has been overshadowed by the devastation in Joplin, Missouri, where the single deadliest tornado in 60 years has killed 116 people.

This is not the first time one of Obama's international trips has been eclipsed by a disaster.  Several of his previous voyages have been cursed by Mother Nature and other unforeseen circumstances.

Last year, he shelved his trip to Indonesia and Australia because of the BP oil spill disaster.  He had previously postponed that trip because of the health care vote.

The president also couldn't fly to the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in April 2010 because of volcanic ash emitting from Iceland.  He had to cut his November Indonesia trip short for the same reason.

On Monday, an Icelandic ash cloud -- albeit from a different volcano -- forced the president and his staff to leave Ireland a day earlier than planned.  He was originally scheduled to spend the night there but due to the erupting Grimsvotn volcano, he was forced to leave for England Monday night.

If all goes as planned, the president and first lady will stay in London for two days, meeting with members of the royal family -- including the Queen, and Prince William and his new bride Catherine -- while there.  The Obamas will spend Tuesday night at Buckingham Palace.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Kicks off European Trip in Ireland

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- After an overnight flight, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama touched down in Dublin, Ireland Monday morning on the first day of their week-long, four-country European trip.

After landing under cloudy skies and a light rain, Obama commented that the "sun is coming out" as he and his wife arrived at the president's residence in Dublin to sign the guest book.  Once there, the president and first lady met with Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Dr. Martin McAleese and participated in a tree planting ceremony with President McAleese.

During Monday's visit to Ireland, President Obama is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at Farmleigh.  He will also travel with the first lady to Moneygall to meet with distant relatives and tour the town where his great, great, great grandfather was born.

"This is a homecoming of sorts for President Obama.  He's very excited to see this small town in Ireland from which he has roots," Deputy National Security Advisors for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes said previewing the visit.

Obama will wrap up his day delivering remarks at an Irish Celebration at College Green in Dublin.

"I think it's a chance to talk about the relationship between our two countries," Rhodes said previewing the speech.  "It's also a chance to talk about the enormous affinity, frankly, that the American people have for Ireland that's rooted, in part, in the huge population of Irish-Americans here.  And it's a chance for the president to really celebrate the ties between our countries and the kind of unique feelings the American people have for Ireland and hopefully that the Irish people, you know, have had with the United States for many years."

The president and first lady will spend the night in Dublin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio