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US And “Old Europe” Best Friends Again?

  • February 9th, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

nato-biden.jpgThe United States has signalled its intention to re-engage with allies, as a group, under the new Obama Presidency – spelt out at this month’s Security Conference in Munich.

MULTILATERAL AGAIN

The Vice President, Joe Biden, told the gathering it would be a “renewal project”.

“We need the world just as the world needs us,” he said.

That signalled a departure from the go-it-alone days of the Bush administration, which came to a head as the USA and United Kingdom went into Iraq without the other main allies.

At Munich this time (6-7.2.09) the collective discussions were on the future of European security, relations with Russia, oil and gas supplies, and the Middle East.

Much of the key work was in bilateral talks on the side, as when Joe Biden met the NATO Secretary General, Jap de Hoop Scheffer (picture).

Others scheduled to attend for discussions were the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, and the Vice Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Ivanov.

NOT ALL PLAIN SAILING

Relations within the North Atlantic community are still far from being all settled.

President Barack Obama has signalled he wants to see more European forces committed to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.

It’s a sticking point, as that war remains unpopular with European voters.

Pressure from the United States to devote prime time to Afghanistan at the NATO Summit this April, in Strasbourg-Kehl, is being resisted by the French and German governments.

France has been preparing to re-enter the alliance military command structure after a long period of absence, in Europe; and in Germany, elections are scheduled for September.

Reference:

NATO, Brussels, NATO Secretary General attends Munich Security Conference, Media Release 2009 (017), 6.2.09

Simon Taylor, “Will the EU say ‘yes, we can’, too?”, European Voice, Brussels, 29.1.09, p 7

Picture: NATO

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