Friday, January 14, 2005

Kerry Works on Fence Mending with European Leaders

In the past two days, John Kerry has wound down his trip to the Middle East meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and French President Jacques Chirac. Perhaps, Bush could take a few lessons from Kerry’s diplomacy skills…

Kerry was in Paris at the close of a trip to Europe and the Middle East including visits to Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.

In a more than 45-minute meeting with President Jacques Chirac, the former presidential candidate discussed frayed relations between France and the United States.

"I'm convinced there's an opportunity here to bring that relationship closer," he said.

He and Chirac discussed Iraq, Iran and the Middle East peace process, Kerry told reporters.

"Succeeding in Iraq and winning the war on terror will take a global effort, and I have conveyed that in my meetings with heads of state in the Middle East and Europe," Kerry said in a statement. "We all have a stake in the outcome of Iraq, and I believe they have a responsibility to do more."

"This has been a good trip. It was very important for me personally to thank our brave men and women in uniform for their service and assess the situation in Iraq," said Kerry who visited U.S. forces in the volatile northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, forecast a meeting between Chirac and Bush. "I hope President Bush will have an opportunity to meet the president," he told reporters. "I'm confident that will happen, not just the meeting but the movement in the right direction."

Kerry said he and Chirac "talked about efforts we can make, all of us together, to try to guarantee the success of all our interests in the Middle East, which are very, very significant."

Kerry told reporters after talks in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the Iraq elections at the end of January were "one marker" of stability, but were not the goal themselves.

"What is critical is for all of us to focus on what happens immediately after the elections," Kerry said.

"I believe there needs to be a larger political reconciliation, as well as a broader involvement of other countries in decision-making in order to build a greater stability in Iraq," Kerry said.

The revelation that the US-led coalition had given up the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was one of many things, he said, that confirms what he had been saying throughout the campaign against US President George W. Bush.

Related links:
Top Iraqi's Visit Helps France to Mend Several Fences


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