Sun, Feb 05, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Europe remains the US’ ‘essential partner’: Clinton

AFP, MUNICH, GERMANY

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that Europe remained Washington’s “partner of first resort,” even as the US marks a strategic pivot to Asia.

In a speech in Munich, Germany, Clinton pledged cooperative efforts for a united and secure Europe, mutual economic recovery and an “agile” security alliance, as well as a democratic Middle East.

The chief US diplomat also urged her European partners at the Munich Security Conference to work together in meeting “the opportunities that lie ahead” in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Taken together, all of these elements point to a larger, enduring truth: When Americans envision the future, we see Europeans as our essential partner,” Clinton told the international conference.

“I’ve heard all the talk about where Europe fits into America’s global outlook. I’ve heard some of the doubts expressed, but the reality couldn’t be clearer: Europe is America’s partner of first resort,” she said.

Forced to make tough choices in tight budgetary times, the US is shifting its military priorities to Asia and the Middle East — even if it has pulled out of Iraq and is drawing down in Afghanistan.

Reducing its troop presence in Europe, Washington sees the looming strategic challenge in the Asia-Pacific region as a newly powerful and assertive China rattles US allies in the region.

In opening the conference on Friday, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Europe should not fear a renewed US focus on Asia and must increasingly look after its own backyard militarily without its historic ally.

In offering support for a “secure, united and democratic Europe,” Clinton said Europe would not be complete and secure until it resolved conflicts in eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean.

And stressing that security and prosperity are inseparable, she said: “We need a common agenda for economic recovery and growth that is every bit as compelling as our global security cooperation.”

She said Brussels and Washington must push for a level economic playing field in the rest of the world, where there are trade barriers, intellectual property theft and favoritism for state-owned firms.

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