US pledges to 'energise' ties with Europe

8th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Obama's election was warmly welcomed in European capitals, and EU leaders are keen to exploit any momentum that his arrival in office might bring.

Brussels -- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed Friday to "energise" ties between the United States and Europe, turning a page on past tensions fuelled by Washington's war on Iraq.

"President (Barack) Obama and I intend to energise the transatlantic relationship and to promote a strong European Union and, more fundamentally, a strong Europe," Clinton said after talks with senior EU officials in Brussels.

"We share values, interests and a rich history of working together to confront common challenges and seize common opportunities," she told reporters.

"We derive strength from each other. A strong Europe is a strong partner for the United States, and the Obama administration intends for the United States to be a strong partner for Europe."

Former president George W. Bush had strained ties with some European allies over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the conflict even fomented internal divisions.

But Obama's election was warmly welcomed in European capitals, and EU leaders are keen to exploit any momentum that his arrival in office might bring.

In an interview later with US National Public Radio, Clinton signalled that the new administration was seeking to mend a number of fences that were severely damaged during the Bush-era.

"We have a sense of urgency in the Obama administration. We believe that there are a lot of challenges and threats that we have inherited," she told the radio station.

"We are testing the waters," she said. "We are determining what is possible. We are turning new pages and resetting buttons. We are doing all kinds of efforts to try to create more partners and fewer adversaries."

Her remarks came after talks with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, representing the EU presidency, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

They were made as she prepared to fly out of Brussels for Geneva, and talks with her counterpart from Russia, with which Washington wants to press the "reset button" and ease past tensions.

Clinton also urged NATO and the EU to work together more closely, amid accusations that the two -- which share 21 common members -- sometimes double up on tasks, using precious military resources.

"These two great institutions can and should cooperate seamlessly, indeed to meet our common challenges, they must," she said. "We cannot afford to waste energy or resources. We all must be focused on the same agenda."

Clinton said that cooperation should also extend to the economic crisis, ahead of a meeting of 20 world powers in London early next month.

"If we are going to stabilise our markets and energise our economies, we will need a coordinated strategy in advance of the G20, an effort that demands joint consultation, joint leadership and joint follow-up."


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