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Diplomacy in Action

On-the-Record Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Travel to Europe


Remarks
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington, DC
October 8, 2009

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MR. KELLY: We’re very pleased to have with us today Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon. He is going to preview the Secretary’s trip to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Russia. And Phil, I will turn it over to you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thanks, Ian. Good afternoon, everybody. I will just walk through some basic elements about the trip and then look forward to your questions.

The Secretary is going to start off by going to Zurich, where she will attend the signing of two protocols between the governments of Turkey and Armenia. She’s going there to show our support for what we believe is a historic step for both Turkey and Armenia towards normalization of their relations. We’ve been engaged in this process. She has herself been closely engaged with the parties to move it along, and we’re going to remain ready to work closely with both governments in support of this process, which we believe will contribute to peace and security and stability throughout the region.

The Secretary will then travel to London, where she will talk with senior UK officials on a wide range of bilateral and transatlantic issues, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These consultations will underscore the strength of the UK-U.S. relationship and the continuous high-level engagement we enjoy with our friends and allies.

From London, she will travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland for the first time as Secretary of State. During her visit to Dublin, she will meet with senior Irish leaders and reaffirm our strong commitment to and ties with Ireland. In Belfast, Secretary Clinton will highlight our continuing commitment to the political progress and economic development in Northern Ireland. Her visit there will highlight our ongoing efforts, along with our international partners, to ensure Northern Ireland’s economic recovery, a commitment that has been reinforced by the recent appointment of a new Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelly. We want to see trade and investment continue to provide jobs and opportunities for both sides of the Atlantic.

Finally, the Secretary will travel to Moscow, where she’ll hold a series of meetings with Russian officials including President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov. They’ll review progress and provide further guidance to our negotiators on a successor agreement to START. They’ll discuss bilateral and regional issues such as cooperation in Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East and North Korea. She and Foreign Minister Lavrov are the coordinators, as you know, of the new Bilateral Presidential Commission that was established last July in Moscow at the presidential summit. And together, they will review the progress of the commission’s various working groups.

These consultations are an integral part of our renewed partnership with Russia, one that we believe is already yielding concrete results, from progress on a successor agreement to START to Russia’s agreement to allow the United States to transport military personnel and equipment across Russia in support of NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. You will remember the lethal transit agreement that was signed in July by the presidents is now up and running and a flight took place this morning implementing that agreement.

After Moscow, she will travel to Kazan, where she will meet with local officials and hold discussions with religious leaders in Kazan to learn more about Kazan’s experience in fostering tolerance and promoting interfaith dialogue. The Secretary will be hoping to gain a better understanding of what’s worked well in Tatarstan’s development and solicit advice from religious leaders, young Muslims, participants in U.S. exchange programs, and civil society representatives on how to apply the lessons from their experience in other societies.

So you see, that’s a pretty wide-ranging and diverse but I think quite important trip. And I would be happy to answer your questions about it.



PRN: 2009/1012



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