Hillary brings US charm to EU headquarters

March 6th, 2009 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, March 6 (DPA) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought her country’s diplomatic charm to the European Union’s (EU) headquarters Friday as she met with “young Europeans” and the bloc’s top representatives.
“Europe today is viewed by many as a miracle… The unity of this grand experiment is indeed impressive to those of us who have followed it from the other side of the Atlantic,” Clinton told a panel of young officials and interns in the European Parliament.

Clinton’s main meeting of the day was a 90-minute talk with the EU’s top diplomat, Javier Solana, European Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the EU’s presidency.

The talk covered relations with Russia, energy security, Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, climate change, the situation in the Balkans and the financial crisis, Schwarzenberg said.

The two sides agreed to jointly urge Russia to play a “more constructive role” in global security and to push for an end to Iran’s nuclear programme, while the EU pledged to live up to existing promises to train the Afghan police force, Schwarzenberg said.

Clinton responded by pledging to support the EU’s efforts to diversify its energy supplies and to work with Europe on security, climate change and overcoming the financial crisis.

She said that Russia could eventually join a US plan to deploy anti-missile systems in Europe - a plan which has enraged Moscow.

“We believe that Russia and the US have the opportunity to cooperate on missile defence - on joint research, joint development, and even eventually, assuming we can reach such an agreement, joint deployment,” Clinton said.

And she also acknowledged that she had discussed the question of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, in the highest-level talks to date on the subject.

“I thanked the EU for working with us to determine a policy regarding detainees from Guantanamo… If we determine that it would be appropriate for a particular detainee to be relocated, we will discuss that with our friends and partners, like the EU,” she said.

“When we are ready to do so, we will have that conversation,” Clinton said.

Earlier, in an hour-long session of questions and answers in the European Parliament, the former first lady stressed the extent to which the administration of US President Barack Obama wants to work with Europe, rather than unilaterally.

“I know that Europe and the US are united in a shared vision of the kind of future that we hope to realize… Europe is our essential partner in what we are going to do together,” she said.

And she criticised the administration of former president George W. Bush for failing to lead the world on climate change and the fight against AIDS - two subjects on which Bush was vilified in Europe.

The US has “certainly been negligent” in its approach to climate change, while “we have not done enough” to prevent the spread of AIDS, Clinton said, promising both more action and more cooperation from the new government.

“There is a leadership crisis in the world, and the US and Europe must in my view lead on so many of those matters,” she said.

The leader of the parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, was enthusiastic in his response, saying, “What you said mostly could have been said by a European, and this shows that what unites us is much more than what divides us.”

Immediately after the meeting, Clinton was set to fly to Geneva for talks with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

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