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U.S-European Relationship Harmonious, Says U.S.

U.S-European Relationship Harmonious, Says U.S. Official

Work continues on a common agenda of security, freedom, State's Fried says

By Judy Aita
Washington File Staff Writer

New York -- Countering reports of trans-Atlantic diplomatic discord, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dan Fried portrayed the U.S.-European relationship as one of "relative harmony" in which diplomats are "working on a common agenda and working very well together."

At a press conference at the New York Foreign Press Center September 19, Fried said that "these are much better times in U.S.-European relations. Having gone through the most difficult period of the debate over Iraq, it is a pleasure to be able to sit down with European colleagues and discuss what we can do together to support democracy in Central Asia, [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yushchenko and the reformers in the Ukraine; what we can do together to support reform in the south, and stability (and) peace in the south Caucasus and the Balkans."

"This is a change from last year," he added, stating, "It is time for the U.S. and Europe get to work together and that's what we're doing to put ourselves to work, to put our agenda to work."

Fried ran through an extensive list of meetings between the United States and European diplomats going on daily around the United Nations 60th anniversary summit and the opening of the General Assembly September 14 to 21.

"The themes vary but an underlying, unifying theme of the work between U.S. and Europe is about our common purpose to advance freedom and security in the world," Fried said.

"The relationship between the United States and Europe is focused less on itself, on what the relationship is, and more on putting that relationship to work," the assistant secretary said.

On issues ranging from Lebanon to reform in the broader Middle East to Iran's nuclear program, "instead of debating whether, we are now discussing how we should do it and how we should do it together," he said.

Since he was re-elected in November 2004, President Bush "has made a concentrated, sustained and successful effort to reach out to Europe as a whole," Fried said.

"We want to put the U.S. -EU relationship to work to promote democracy and stability along Europe's frontier of freedom -- the countries which need help in stabilizing their own democracies as they go through a difficult transformation," the assistant secretary said.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Even on the issue of the environment and the Kyoto Protocol, "I think we are moving ahead," Fried said. The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that calls for reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, emissions some researchers have linked to global warming. The United States has not ratified the protocol.

"We all agree that the global environment has to be an issue of global concern. We all agree that global warming is an issue that needs to be taken seriously. We all agree on some of the steps that need to be taken to address this," he said.

The risks and balances of nuclear power have to be discussed, Fried added.

"President Bush has said that the solution must include technological innovation so that those choices become easier and we expand the range of choices," the assistant secretary said. "So we are working better now on the environment. There is more we are able to do and we are getting past the point where Kyoto becomes such a loud, symbolic issue that it drowns out our ability to discuss these issues."

SECURITY COUNCIL EXPANSION

On question of expanding the U.N. Security Council, where both Italy and Germany are vying for a very limited number of additional permanent seats, Fried said the United States has made no decision other than to support Japan's candidacy. "We haven't said ‘no’ to anybody," he added.

Security Council expansion has to be part of a broader package of Security Council reforms that contribute to international harmony, he said, but so far the issue of expansion has "actually exacerbated some diplomatic tensions."

On individual candidacies, "in each region, there were objections raised to the proposal and the manner in which the proposal was being forced ahead," Fried noted.

"We are going to return to Security Council reform. It's not dead," he said. "But we have to do so in a way that takes into account everyone's view. And when we say . . . we need a broad consensus, we mean that."

"I'm looking for a broad consensus. I don't see one in Europe. This debate has not resolved itself in Europe," the assistant secretary said.

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