WASHINGTON (AP) _ First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet with the presidents of Poland and Slovakia at the beginning of a trip that will also include stops in Italy and Iceland, her office said Monday.

New York politicians have traditionally considered Italy, Ireland and Israel valuable foreign stops, since those countries have large natural constituencies in New York City and elsewhere in the state. But the White House said Monday that Mrs. Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate for Senate in New York next year, is going abroad only as an ambassador of the Clinton administration.

``She'll be continuing her work as an ambassador of the United States,'' White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said. The trip focuses on ``democracy in Europe, and the many programs that she's worked so hard on,'' he said, including women's rights and economic empowerment.

Mrs. Clinton will meet separately Tuesday with Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Warsaw.

She will also speak to students at a Warsaw school and to female workers at a textile factory.

Mrs. Clinton also meets separately with the president and prime minister of Slovakia during a visit to the capital, Bratislava, on Wednesday. She will attend a meeting of organizations that work alongside governments to promote democracy worldwide.

After a brief stop in Italy, she'll go to Iceland for this year's Vital Voices conference, focusing on women's participation in democracy worldwide.

At last year's gathering in Montevideo, Uruguay, Mrs. Clinton told 1,000 women from throughout the hemisphere that women can make democracy and prosperity spread more widely and deeply than ever.

Mrs. Clinton will return to Washington on Sunday.