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President Barack Obama kicked off his last official overseas trip in Greece on Tuesday saying he doesn't bear responsibility for Donald Trump, whose unorthodox election victory has left foreign leaders skittish about the next administration.
Obama, when asked by NBC News about whether he feels responsible for the election of Trump — seen as a referendum on his last eight years in office — the president told reporters: "I still don’t feel responsible for what the president-elect says or does. But I do feel a responsibility as president of the United States to make sure that I facilitate a good transition and I present to him, as well as the American people, my best thinking."
Obama acknowledged that the GOP nominee's win was a way for Americans to "shake things up." His policies on globalization and increasing international relations run counter to Trump, who peppered his language on the campaign trail with "America first" rhetoric.
In a speech over the summer, Trump criticized a "leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism."
Obama on Tuesday said presidential elections can turn on a number of factors, including candidate personalities as well as a campaign's effectiveness, and Trump's rhetoric "tapped into that particular strain within the Republican Party" to win over voters.
Still, Obama rejected comparing Trump's candidacy to the rise of conservative and far-right parties in England and France, although he warned of the intense nationalism that can also give way to anti-immigration and xenophobia.
"I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an 'us' or a 'them,'" Obama warned in a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
While Americans appear to have been motivated at the polls by their anger, the president added, the effects of a Trump presidency are still anyone's guess.
"Time will now tell whether the prescriptions being offered, whether Brexit or with respect to the U.S. election, ends up actually satisfying those people who have been fearful or angry or concerned,” Obama said.
Following the divisive presidential election which saw Trump win the White House, Obama has had to allay fears following the president-elect's previous suggestion that he is willing to abandon NATO allies if other partner nations don't pay more under the military alliance.
Obama's seven-day farewell foreign tour includes traveling Wednesday to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European heads of state.
The outgoing commander in chief will also arrive in Peru later in the week for the Asia Pacific Cooperation summit, which will bring together Pacific nation leaders. Russian President Vladimir Putin is among the expected attendees.
A Kremlin spokesman reportedly said Putin and Obama may meet on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Greece has found itself in the midst of the migration maelstrom caused by the fighting in Syria and elsewhere.
Migrants and refugees have been making dangerous treks to get to the island nation — seen as a safe haven and entry point into Europe. But the crisis there has been coupled with a difficult climb out of a deep recession that forced a string of unpopular austerity measures.
Greek leaders are hoping Obama can help convince their nation's international creditors, including Germany, to forgive some of its soaring debt.
Obama praised Greece for being among the five countries of the 28-member NATO alliance who have met a requirement to pay 2 percent or more of their respective country's GDP on their own military defense. The other nations include the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland.
"Greece has done this even during its difficult economic times," Obama told reporters. "If Greece can meet this commitment, all of the nations should be able to."
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos earlier thanked Obama upon his arrival and said the U.S. and Greece share a "solidarity ... throughout deep and painful economic and social crisis."
"I'm certain your successor, Mr. Trump, will continue on the same path," Pavlopoulos said.