John Kerry’s first trip – full of ambition

(VOVworld) – The new American Secretary of State John Kerry is on a visit to nine countries in Western Europe and the Arab world. Unlike his predecessor Hilary Clinton who chose Asia for her inaugural trip as the top US diplomat, John Kerry is refocusing US attention on the continent and resetting the search for a peaceful solution in the Middle East. But this will be ‘a listening tour’ and is not expected to produce any breakthroughs. VOV comments.

John Kerry’s first trip – full of ambition - ảnh 1
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his first foreign policy speech, Feb. 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va (Photo:

John Kerry arrived in Britain last Sunday to begin his 11–day maiden voyage to Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. The son of a diplomat, when he was young, Kerry lived in Germany and is expected to have plans to boost relations between the US and Europe, so it’s easy to understand why he selected this continent as his first stop as Secretary of State.. But above all, he is pursuing President Barack Obama’s new foreign policy which gives priority to maintaining close relations with top allies here and improving relations with Arab nations.

In meetings in London on Monday with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, Kery will ask about London’s plans for a referendum on whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union, and discuss troop dispositions in Afghanistan. The US will not want to see its closest ally drop out of the European Union, particularly with Europe’s pubic debt problems showing signs of improvement and a US–EU free trade agreement in the works. In a speech earlier this month, President Obama spoke of the enormous opportunities offered by a trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership which would create the biggest free trade area in the world.  Kerry will discuss this idea with the leaders of France and Germany also.

The biggest US foreign policy challenges are Middle East issues including the civil war in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, and ending the struggle Israel and Palestine. In Rome, Italy, on Thursday Kerry will attend an international conference attended by representatives of the factions in Syria look for a solution to the 23-month civil war. The opposition factions in Syria previously threatened not to participate in the meeting because the US has not supported them by supplying needed weapons. When Kerry was sworn in, he said he had a new idea for persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The world is still waiting for Washington to choose diplomacy or weapons support for the opposition forces to settle the crisis there. Kerry must persuade Russia, a key ally of al-Assad’s administration, to cooperate with the US on Syria. This will be a difficult task as so far Russia has insisted that Syria’s issues should be resolved by the Syrian people without outside interference.

Iran’s nuclear ambition is another big challenge for Washington. A nuclear negotiation between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany that coincided with Kerry’s trip has ended without any outcome, at least until Iran’s presidential election in June. Kerry’s visit to Egypt conveys a message that the US wants to work with Egypt’s new government. This will also be a difficult task, as the Muslim Brotherhood categorically rejects any US involvement in running egypt. In Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar – the main US allies the Middle East - Kerry will gather more information that might help to deal with the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

Kerry’s first trip shows that Washington wants to focus more on the short term than the long term. The US has made strategic adjustments in the Asia – Pacific region but that doesn’t mean it will neglect the areas of its traditional strategic interests. It’s obvious that the US intends to consolidate its influence in Europe and the Middle East..

Anh Hyen