Edwards to Visit NATO Officials

Sen. John Edwards, who is considering a run for president in 2004, plans to meet with top NATO officials Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium, to talk about international politics and questions about terrorism and Iraq.

The North Carolina Democrat was leaving Monday and planned to stay through Thursday, aides said.

"He wants to confer with NATO officials about the recent expansion of the alliance and talk with allies about the situation in Iraq," said Michael Briggs, an Edwards spokesman. He said the trip has been planned for several weeks.

While in Brussels, Briggs said, Edwards expects to meet with Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign and security affairs chief; Gen. Joseph Ralston, supreme allied commander in Europe; and NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson. Edwards then travels to London for meetings Wednesday with top British officials in foreign affairs and intelligence.

Edwards gave an address on foreign policy in October in which he sharply criticized President Bush for not working closely enough with U.S. allies. Edwards was among Senate Democrats who recently backed a resolution authorizing Bush to use force if needed to disarm Iraq and depose its president, Saddam Hussein. In the October speech, however, Edwards was critical of the president for waiting too long to engage U.S. allies on Iraq.