WASHINGTON — President Obama, who set a record for foreign travel in his first year, is pulling back in his second.
After visiting 21 foreign countries last year — several of them twice — Obama has visited just two so far this year, with three more planned next month.
"He is certainly traveling less," said Reginald Dale, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"When he said he wasn't going to go to the EU meeting, his staff explained that he was going to do less traveling this year. Their reasons were that the aim of the first year was to get to know all his colleagues around the world. Now that he's done that, he doesn't need to do it as much."
There's also the fact that the president has plenty on his plate at home: his agenda in Congress on such issues as energy legislation and overhauling financial regulation, and coming elections for control of Congress at a time when the economy's still struggling.
In addition, Obama's 2009 trips sometimes fell short on such high-profile goals as jump-starting Middle East peace talks, persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions and even winning the Olympics for his hometown of Chicago.
"He wasn't achieving much by doing it," Dale said.
Obama still meets with world leaders, of course. He hosted Mexican President Felipe Calderon this week, and he welcomed nearly 50 to an April summit in Washington on nuclear weapons.
He'll travel to Canada next month for an economic summit with leaders of the G-20 nations, and to Australia and Indonesia. He's also promised to visit India this year.
He's not burning up Air Force One jet fuel as he was last year, however, when his stops in 21 countries easily broke the record of 15 countries in a president's first year, shared by Gerald Ford after he took office in 1974 and George H.W. Bush after taking office in 1989.