October 8th, 2009
07:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton trip comes in midst of Afghan debates

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarks Friday on a six-day trip to Europe and Russia that comes at a crucial time in the Obama administration's decision-making on a strategy for Afghanistan.

She will depart one day after the inaugural flight of the "lethal transit" agreement, signed in July by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which allows transport of military personnel and equipment across Russia to support the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan.

On the trip, the secretary will confer with key allies about Obama's emerging strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Phil Gordon, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Meetings are planned with the French foreign minister, the British foreign secretary and prime minister, the Russian foreign minister and Medvedev. She also will discuss the next steps on Iran and North Korea and international efforts to have the two countries end their nuclear programs.

Clinton also will highlight two enduring conflicts that have come or are coming to a close: one in Northern Ireland and the other involving Turkey's relations with Armenia.

In Northern Ireland she will underscore both the peace process and economic development. The United States now has an economic envoy to Northern Ireland and a U.S. delegation of business leaders will accompany Clinton to Belfast.

In Zurich, Switzerland, she will attend a signing ceremony normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia. Relations between the two were disrupted 16 years ago over Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan.

Gordon called the signing a "historic step" that will "contribute to peace and security throughout the region."

However, the parliaments of both countries still must ratify the agreement and a senior State Department official - authorized to brief reporters without attribution because of diplomatic sensitivities - said the situation remains "difficult."

"There's opposition both in Turkey and in Armenia," the senior official said, "but both governments realize ultimately it's in their interest to have normalized relations and an open border after years of tension and the economic isolation, particularly of Armenia."

The centerpiece of the trip will be Clinton's visit to Moscow. At the top of the agenda is working toward an agreement to take the place of the Start II arms control pact, which expires December 5, as well as the newly created bilateral presidential commission that is working on a broad range of issues, from arms control to health.

A senior State Department official said the negotiating teams working on Start are "making good progress ... but there is a lot of work that has to be done in a short amount of time." The official said there are sticking points on delivery vehicles - the missiles that carry nuclear bombs - and the number of warheads.

In Moscow, Clinton will meet with human rights and civil society supporters. The State Department official said she will raise the issue of recent slayings of journalists in Russia. She also will discuss Russia's incursion into Georgia, an issue that he said "is not satisfactorily settled."

During a stop in Kazan, Russia, Clinton will highlight interfaith cooperation. She will solicit ideas from religious leaders, young Muslims, exchange students and others on how to bridge the divide between faiths. Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, a majority-Muslim part of the Russian Federation.

Her trip will begin in Zurich, then move to London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Moscow and Kazan. She will return to Washington on Wednesday.

According to the State Department, Clinton has visited 34 countries and flown 130,748 miles since becoming secretary of state.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Hillary Clinton • State Department
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Jimmy the Greek

    Clinton?? Where is Bill Clinton going??

    October 8, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. Censorship in Practice form at CNN--S Callahan NYS

    You go get 'em SOS......

    October 8, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    We were spoiled with Condoleeza Rice. It's tough following someone who was actually qualified for the job.

    October 8, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. vic nashville , Tn

    What they are going to do ?

    It is our mistake invaded Iraq after that every thing following apart

    Really I don’t know when will republicans get it Bush made all these mess

    October 8, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Dave - Independent

    Letiing the taliban celebrate the killing of eight of our peace-keepers is the most disgusting event in years in our fight against muslim extremist-jihad actions. When will you liberal americans realize that we are the enemy of Islam? Mabey when one of your relatives falls victim to their cowardly attacks. At least they were able to fight for our freedoms before they parished with honor. You people are determined to socialize our country and take away the reason our soldiers have sacrificed themselves for what this nation stands for. Liberals move to France where they will enjoy your political views.

    October 8, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  6. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their foolishness.

    SHe ought to be asking for them to help our soldiers. For God knows OBAMA hasn't got sense to.

    October 8, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. Liberals are Hypocrites

    Hopefully she won't trash the U.S., as Obama always does.

    October 8, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  8. Hugo

    Let me make sure I understand, the Obama Administration is basically asking Russia for their assistance in reining in Afghanistan through the voice of Hillary Clinton. This is so ironic it would almost be humorous if our servicemen lives were not at stake. Let's think, Russia and the missile deployment cancellation, Iran on the edge of creating it's own nuclear weaponry, Russia selling Iran intercept missile technology, Russia pushing for a replacement currency to the US dollar.

    Okay, I got it, sure we can count on their assistance......

    Go Obama, 2012 end of the World!

    October 8, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. phoenix86

    So Obama sends the Secretary of State on a trip while he and his advisors strategize on how to cut and run from Afghanistan.

    Hillary should resign asap, the longer she is associated with the incompetence of Obama the less likely she is to ever hold elected office again.

    October 8, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Sue

    Hillary, Hillary – WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU??? You have become a total NON-ENTITY in this administration. Where is the Hillary we once voted for to lead our country? You have completely abandoned US, Hillary, and YOUR views. SHAME< SHAME< SHAME.
    Mr. Obama is making an arse of you and YOU are willingly condescending to him for ?????WHAT?????

    October 8, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  11. Hillary has no real function or power....

    in the Obama administration. She ought to resign instead of looking like fool spinning her wheels.

    October 8, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. Joyce Lewis

    I am soo proud of you, and you are during a G-R-E-A-T and an Excellent job as top Diplomat of our country. Oh, how I wish you
    had won POTUS(President of the United State), but next time.

    Keep up the Good Work.

    Love you and job well-done,
    Joy, ATL

    October 8, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  13. Robert

    that's good news honesty it is

    I just have a question why does she not go to like iran and fix our relations with then ?

    October 8, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Scott L

    "the secretary will confer with key allies about Obama's emerging strategy"

    There's a strategy??? Oh wait you mean he had to take 10 months in office pumping a public option health care strategy before he tackled Afghanistan. That makes total sense now. Never mind my lack of understanding the vision of his holiness.

    October 8, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  15. jon

    ...and the bumbling, waffling foreign policy odyssey continues...might as well add Jimmy Carter to the mix at this point...he can be the apologist in chief in Obama's absence...

    October 8, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. GuamLovesHillary

    She will make a well experienced President of the United States in 2012 or 2016. I knew from the beginning that she was the women for the job, Health Care, War in the mid-east, Clean Energy, Gay Rights ect.. I believed her words when she said it wil take her leadership and not on the job training! Ready on day ONE!

    October 8, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. cgillette369

    she may as well go away she knows nothing about military operations.

    they already have a team of Vietnam draft dodgers trying to figure when their time came they evaded responsibility.

    so do what Biden & Gates did in Vietnam pull out.

    October 8, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. valwayne

    Hillary is off on a jaunt while Obama and his real foreign policy advisors make the decision about Afghanistan. It ought to be clear to anybody with a brain that Hillary isn't much involved in Obama's foreign policy, and in a few month when Iran has its nukes and starts sharing them with Hugo Chavez she will be happy to point out that she was off on a foreign trip and completely out of the loop!

    October 8, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |