Barack Obama accepted a rush of congratulatory phone calls from world leaders after last week's election. But personal visits with the president-elect will have to wait.
In deference to President Bush, Obama won't be entertaining visits with foreign dignitaries when they travel to Washington this weekend for a summit on the global economic crisis that Bush is hosting. Obama is expected to stay in Chicago to work on plans for January's transfer of power.
Bush announced before the election that the world's 20 largest industrialized nations and emerging economies would meet in Washington this Saturday. Obama consistently said not to expect his presence if he was elected, and that hasn't changed.
"He's very interested and thought it was a good idea to have the meeting, but in a phrase that you'll hear an exceedingly large number of times between now and the 20th of January, there's only one president at a time, and we will stay up to date and briefed on what's going on but will not be a participant," said Robert Gibbs, a senior Obama adviser.
Gibbs said that "it's a possibility" that Obama advisers will take part in the meeting but made clear that Obama would not be meeting with foreign leaders in Washington or in Chicago, though the leaders attending are certainly interested in his views.
"The administration has pledged to keep us up to date on the goings on," Gibbs added. He reiterated Obama's position from the campaign that the United States needed to coordinate its efforts with the 20 countries and "that if one country acted, it would likely actually do less to help stabilize than it would if everybody moved together."
Obama and his team have gone to great lengths to defer to the current administration and ease the way for a smooth, collegial transition. Deferring to Bush also allows his successor to distance himself from the unpopular Republican president in line with his campaign pledge to turn the page after eight years of GOP rule.
Aides say the president-elect will spend the bulk of his time in the coming weeks in Chicago putting together his administration with the economy as a major focus.
"That will be something that he spends a lot of time working on throughout the next many weeks before January, ensuring that the team that he has in place is a strong team that gives the American people confidence in their ability to get the economy moving again," Gibbs said.