2014-05-24T195904Z_1_CBREA4N1JIJ00_RTROPTP_2_USA-OBAMA

Obama to lay out defense of foreign policy in West Point speech

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New YorkBy Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Stung by criticism, President Barack Obama will use a speech on Wednesday to launch a sweeping defense of his approach to foreign policy, one that he will say is reliant on multilateral diplomacy instead of military interventions. Obama is to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. The president has come under withering fire in recent months for what his critics say is a passive approach to foreign policy, one that has allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to flex his muscle in Ukraine, and left the Syrian civil war to fester and China to threaten its neighbors in the South China Sea. Shortly after a trip to Asia late in April during which he strongly defended his incremental approach, he directed aides to frame a speech to explain his foreign policy and how he plans to handle world hot spots during his remaining two-and-a-half years in office.

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