Countering the impression that Europe is not a priority for the Obama administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Paris Friday for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and made a wide-reaching speech on European security.
Following her trip to London for an international conference on stabilising Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Paris on Friday for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a key speech on European security.
If, as FRANCE 24’s international politics specialist Caroline de Camaret said, Obama’s first year “gave the impression of a diplomacy centered on zones of conflict that are important to the US, and not on Europe,” Clinton’s visit seemed intended to rectify that notion.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office had said his talks with Clinton would cover Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran and global warming.
Speculation following the talks was that Clinton had likely pressed Sarkozy to send more troops to Afghanistan, where France currently has 3,500 soldiers on the ground. Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that Germany would contribute 500 more troops to join the 30,000-troop surge announced by Obama in December.
Clinton was to meet with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner later on Friday.
'Strengthening the trans-Atlantic partnership’
Speaking at a military academy in central Paris, Clinton delivered a wide-reaching address that underscored the Obama administration’s commitment to the European continent’s security and to the trans-Atlantic alliance.
"We are called to address some of the greatest challenges in human history," she said. "To meet them, we are required to modernise and strengthen our (trans-Atlantic) partnership for this new era."
Clinton suggested tighter French-American coordination following France’s decision to rejoin the NATO command last year: "We will work even more closely now that France is fully participating in NATO's integrated command structure," she said.
Emphasis on cooperation with Russia
Much of Clinton’s address revolved around American and European relations with Russia. Clinton urged NATO allies to reach out to Russia for cooperation as part of a broad drive to revitalise European security partnerships.
Clinton reiterated the United States' opposition to Russia's call for a new set of security accords for Europe, but said Washington seriously wanted to cooperate with Russia on missile defence for Europe.
"Missile defence will make this continent a safer place" she said, adding that "Russia is no longer our adversary but a partner on key global issues."
Date created : 2010-01-29