Obama deflects world-tour critics at Chicago journalist convention

US presidential candidate Barack Obama Sunday made his first appearance back on US soil meeting a convention of minority journalists in Chicago where he emphasized multinational cooperation for future US foreign policy, the dpa reported.

After Obama's return from Europe and the Middle East he faced sharp criticism from the opposing camp for not visiting wounded US soldiers and treating his tour as a victory lap.

The called-off visit to the US military hospital Landstuhl and the US military airfield Ramstein is an indication of Obama's lack of experience and judgement, Tucker Bounds, spokesman for John McCain, said.

However at the Chicago convention Sunday the black senator deflected such criticism, countering that his opponent Senator John McCain had already met with some of the same leaders after the republican gained the nomination of his party.

The senator from Illinois had visited Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, France and Great Britain in the past week in addition to Germany. In Berlin he spoke before more than 200,000 listeners. US media called the journey a success.

"I basically met with the same folks John McCain met after he won the nomination," Obama said. Establishing relationships with world leaders is an important "part of the job that I'm applying for."

Obama said a problem of present US foreign policy is that the US does not listen to others, the senator said at Sunday's journalist forum. The 200,000 listeners in Berlin showed that Europe was hungry" for political leadership from the United States, he said.

Obama repeated his demand for an intensified commitment of the Europeans in the Afghanistan war.

"We've got to get Afghanistan right," he said in Chicago, emphasizing that Pakistan needs to be involved and the world community must participate in a solution to tackle al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Obama also said the US must lead the way on nuclear non- proliferation, particularly in the Middle East.

Obama said the trip was important because he was convinced that the US is confronted with problems at home, which can be solved with strong partners abroad.

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