Committed to the transatlantic partnership

During his first trip abroad since assuming office, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Berlin. He held political talks with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Chancellor Angela Merkel, and also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. John Kerry has fond memories of Berlin: as a child he lived there for a while with his parents.

In a joint press conference with Westerwelle, Kerry said, “It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to return to Berlin.” He added, “Germany is without doubt one of our strongest and most effective allies in the world.” Foreign Minister Westerwelle said the fact that the US Secretary of State visited Europe and Germany so early in his term in office showed “a clear commitment to the transatlantic partnership”. The Minister went on to say that the US remained “Germany’s most important partner outside Europe”.

Creating growth and new jobs

Westerwelle and Kerry had many topics to discuss, including the prospect of a transatlantic free trade zone, a project that has recently gained new momentum. Westerwelle said such an agreement would create growth and new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic without generating new debt. For this reason, he said, he would like preparations to move forward quickly enough for negotiations between the EU and the US to start this summer.

The US Secretary of State added, “Germany is our largest trade partner in Europe.” He said, “It is a priority for President Obama ... to try to advance a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership.”

International issues

US Secretary of State’s inaugural visit

US Secretary of State’s inaugural visit
© Photothek/Imo

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US Secretary of State’s inaugural visit

US Secretary of State’s inaugural visit

US Secretary of State’s inaugural visit

Kerry also expressed his gratitude for Germany’s help in increasing the pressure on the Syrian regime. Westerwelle stressed the international community’s duty to do whatever is possible to end the conflict. The Syrian opposition’s National Coalition, he said, was the key partner in these efforts. On 28 February, the Friends of Syria core group will come together in Rome to push further for a political solution to the Syria conflict. The group is comprised of EU member states, the US and neighbours of Syria. Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Secretary of State Kerry will also take part in the meeting.

Another topic on the agenda for Westerwelle and Kerry in Berlin was their shared concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme. The E3+3 countries (Germany, the US, Russia, China, France and the UK) met in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 26 February for talks with Iran in order to find a way to enter into a substantive negotiation process on the country’s nuclear programme. Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized that the talks were “an opportunity that I hope Iran will truly seize”. The aim, he said, was a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the nuclear programme. According to Westerwelle, a nuclear-armed Iran would “endanger the security architecture of the entire world”.

More on the conflict on Iran's nuclear programme

From 24 February to 6 March, Kerry’s first trip abroad since succeeding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is taking him to the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

More on the transatlantic relations on www.diplo.de

Last updated 26.02.2013

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