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June 29, 09

NEWS / Topics: Policy, Peace and Security, Europe and Eurasia Keywords: Barack Obama, G8, OSCE, Russia 24

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — The United States is participating in international meetings in June and July in Europe to directly engage with European partners on the most urgent, overarching security and economic challenges, a senior State Department official says.

Some of the challenges facing the United States and others include Afghanistan, Pakistan, the global economic crisis and re-engagement with Russia, the senior official said at a special background briefing June 23.

The Group of Eight major industrialized nations’ foreign ministers will meet June 26–27 in Trieste, Italy, and foreign ministers from nations in the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) will meet in Corfu, Greece, June 27–28. The United States is sending high-level delegations to both meetings.

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg will travel to Corfu, his second visit to Greece, and participate in the OSCE ministerial, the senior official said. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will head the delegation to the G8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Trieste, and also will attend the NATO-Russia Council informal meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the senior official said. Topics there will include global threats such as counterterrorism, food security, the Middle East peace process, Iran and North Korea.

Burns will participate in a series of special meetings on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Special Representative Richard Holbrooke will also attend, the senior official said. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was planning to attend these meetings, the senior State Department official said, but is now recovering from surgery after breaking her elbow recently.

The G8 Summit will be held July 8–10 in L’Aquila, Italy, and President Obama will attend to represent the United States. He will also visit the Vatican before leaving for Ghana. Before attending the G8, Obama will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow and will discuss a range of issues, including the drawdown of nuclear weapons.

“The Obama administration is committed to reinvigorating and deepening its traditional relationships with Europe and other partners. And we have three strategic priorities with Europe, one of which is enhancing our cooperation on global challenges,” he said.

The range of global challenges includes Iran, Afghanistan-Pakistan, food security, the current economic crisis and global warming, the official said. He added that the United States is stronger and more successful when it works together with European allies, and that these meetings provide an opportunity to discuss those challenges with its partners.

Other strategic priorities the United States has with Europe include expanding the zone of peace, prosperity and stability in Europe to the east and to the south and southeast, he said, and renewing relations with Russia.

“[In] Trieste, the focus will be mostly on working with the G8 partners on some of the global challenges ... from food security to climate change,” he said. “In Corfu, we have a specific agenda for trying to reinvigorate the OSCE, which ... focuses on fundamental freedoms such as human rights, civil society and necessary components of security.”

A transcript of the briefing is available on America.gov.

Tags: secretary of state,


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