WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John McCain, the Republican candidate for U.S. president, plans to travel to Europe and the Middle East for 10 days in mid-March as part of a congressional delegation, officials familiar with the trip said on Sunday.
McCain, an Arizona senator, is staking his claim on the presidency based on his national security experience, and his foreign trip will play into that theme.
He and other senators plan to meet some foreign leaders along the way, officials said.
Israeli media said McCain planned a visit to the region on March 18. The Washington Post said the trip might include a stop in Iraq.
McCain has clinched the Republican presidential nomination and is free to travel abroad while his Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, fight over the Democratic nomination. The presidential election is in November.
McCain had hoped to go on a similar visit in February but had to remain in the United States to continue campaigning while he still faced a challenge from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has since pulled out of the race.
McCain has been a strong supporter of President George W. Bush’s troop build-up in Iraq. He had criticized the way the war was being managed until the build-up took place last year.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by John O’Callaghan)
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