[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/15/art.mccaintrip.ap.jpg caption=" McCain will host a London fundraiser next week."](CNN) - During a congressional trip to the Middle East and Europe next week, John McCain will take a break from his Senate duties to host a $1,000 per plate fundraising lunch for his presidential campaign at London’s Spencer House.
The fundraiser will be held towards the end of his week-long trip, which will include visits to Iraq, Jerusalem, London and Paris with supporters and longtime friends Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Joe Lieberman. They are slated to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The three senators are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and McCain has been adamant that presidential politics will not be discussed next week. However, aides admit that the trip will emphasize his foreign policy credentials - a pillar of his presidential platform.
“This will be one of many regular trips that I have taken over the last 20 years as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” McCain told CNN on Tuesday. “I think that it’s very important as the ranking member that I understand and keep up to date, particularly where young Americans may be in harms way. He added, “I regret that more of my colleagues don’t spend more time in foreign travel.”
A McCain spokeswoman said that this is not the first time a presidential candidate has raised money overseas, noting that Rudy Giuliani did the same during the primary process.
The campaign insists the U.S. Treasury will be reimbursed for all expenses relating to the fundraiser, including transportation to and from the event, the hotel and McCain’s flight back to the U.S.
- CNN’s Dana Bash and Alexander Marquardt