Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Middle East and Europe Trip: Brussels!

In remarks to reporters aboard her plane en route from Ramallah to Brussels, Secretary Clinton touched on an array of subjects. She said that overall in her talks with Arab foreign ministers she heard "over and over and over again" a deep-seated worry about threats posed by the Iranians. She reiterates that Obama stands ready to engage in talks with Iran but says "we want to make sure it's constructive."

"It is clear that Iran intends to interfere with the internal affairs of all of these people and try to continue their efforts to fund terrorism, whether it's Hezbollah or Hamas or other proxies."

On Guantanamo Bay: Also without getting too detailed, she responded to a question about European officials willingness to resettle Muslim detainees at the Guantanamo Bay. She said "I'm very encouraged by what I've heard." She's received "positive, receptive responses."

On Sudan's President: Also enroute she mentioned that Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. And commented on the controversy surrounding the war crimes in Darfur he was chargned with. She said firmly, "President Bashir would have a chance to have his day in court if he believes that the indictment is wrongly charged. He can certainly contest it. I certainly hope that it does not lead to any additional actions of violence or punishment on the part of the Bashir government."

If you haven't heard of the case, Bashir was indicted on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, a panel of judges said it had insufficient grounds to charge him for genocide in a conflict that U.N. officials say has killed as many as 300,000 people since 2003.

"Governments and individuals who either conduct or condone atrocities of any kind, as we have seen year after year in Sudan, have to be held accountable."

The Bush Administration was not a member of the ICC. The Obama administration is currently reviewing whether to sign up to the ICC as part of a review of foreign policy.

On Russia: She also talked about her visit to Brussels saying the talks here will focus on Russia and the likely unfreezing of high-level relations with NATO, sparked by Moscow's decision to send troops into Georgia last August.

"I am looking to demonstrate that the United States intend to be an active participant within NATO and with our NATO partners. I will certainly be raising issues that are important to the United States such as our plan going forward for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the NATO-Russia relationship, some of the old problems and new threats together."
When asked about a possible unfreezing in NATO's ties with Russia, she suggested there might be other means through which to engage Russia. "I think the NATO-Russia Council is one vehicle but there may be other ways that we can design. But it is not the vehicle so much as the substance."

According to alliance diplomats, she and her NATO counterparts are set to announce Thursday the new beginning of formal high-level ties with Russia while reassuring Georgia and Ukraine they have a future in the military alliance. And the Secretary discussed having a "more robust and meaningful dialogue with Russia going forward on a range of issues."

One of the major sticking points for Russia is U.S. missile defense plans. Clinton hopes Russia can see this Administration's point of view.

"It is my hope that we will persuade Russia to take part in that defense," she said. She expanded, saying she thought Moscow might feel less threatened by the U.S. anti-missile shield plans. I think they are beginning to really believe it, that this is not about Russia."
The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to install 10 missile interceptors, which would not carry explosive warheads, and a radar system on their territories to expand its shield into Europe.

The move is meant to counter any missile threat from Iran but it angered Russia. However, the project might be off all together. Obama has ordered a review to see if it is still technically feasible and cost effective.

The Transatlantic Dinner: So after a plane ride of questioning, Hillary arrived tonite in Brussels for the closed door "transatlantic dinner" at the Egmont palace. According so a few journalists in Brussels Hillary has the town "abuzz with excitement."

Hillary met with Belgium's Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht ahead of the dinner. And she was seated next to Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband. (Who I love btw...)

She will consult NATO and European allies on her new strategy to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan tomorrow. Interestingly enough, these meetings take place as the administration of President Barack Obama prepares to deploy 17,000 additional troops in Afghanistan and prepares to implement a strategic review of the war against the Taliban insurgency as the main contributor to NATO's operations in the country.


Hillary Clinton Army said...

I'm loving her new look, too!

Sarah said...

shes rockin the pony tail!

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