- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CONFRONTING CHALLENGES

The president of the European Parliament will visit Washington next week for high-level talks aimed at reviving U.S.-European relations, at a time when many analysts fear a deeper rift in trans-Atlantic ties over Russia, Afghanistan, energy and other issues.

“We have many ideas for revitalizing our relations,” President Jerzy Buzek said Monday, as the European delegation office in Washington announced his schedule of meetings.

Mr. Buzek, a former prime minister of Poland, will hold talks with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat; and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. On his first visit as the presiding officer of the Parliament, Mr. Buzek also will address the Transatlantic Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Johns Hopkins University, and will hold a 3 p.m. news conference Tuesday at the National Press Club.

A founding member of the Solidarity trade union movement that helped end the Cold War, Mr. Buzek is worried about the future of U.S.-European relations. He said the “central purpose” of his visit is to “build a much closer” partnership between the European Parliament and Congress.

“We can and should work together in facing the big challenges that confront us across the Atlantic, from climate change to energy security, from maintaining free trade to improving global governance,” he said.

Mr. Buzek, whose position as presiding officer is similar to Mrs. Pelosi’s, said he hopes to tap into President Obama’s popularity in Europe to help promote those goals.

“We want to use the Obama moment to build a vibrant partnership that offers hope and leadership in an uncertain world,” Mr. Buzek said.

However, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO warned that the “Obama moment” may have already passed. Kurt Volker, writing for www.europesworld.org, noted that while Mr. Obama remains popular among Europeans, many officials complain that the president is paying too little attention to Europe.

“One hears criticism from Europeans about a U.S. lack of attention, about engaging Russia more than with America’s own allies, especially in Central Europe, about undervaluing the European Union and about waiting for the Obama administration to make up its mind on Afghanistan,” Mr. Volker wrote.

He also noted “American frustrations” over working with European institutions that are too “process-oriented” and “time-consuming without delivering results.” Mr. Volker, a former career diplomat, added that both criticisms are a “bit unfair.”

IN THE LOOP

The U.S. ambassador to India on Monday said U.S. officials are keeping India informed on all intelligence they get from the man who confessed to helping terrorists attack India’s most populous city in 2008.

Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer told reporters in New Delhi that the Obama administration is still trying to arrange for Indian officials to have direct access to David Coleman Headley, who admitted helping plan the attack on the port city of Mumbai that killed 173 people and wounded more than 300 in at least 10 coordinated assaults on the city of 14 million. In March, Headley, born Daood Sayhed Gilani, entered into a plea agreement with the FBI that prevents him from being extradited.

“The U.S. and India are working at the highest level to provide direct access to Headley,” Mr. Roemer said. “Our government has put this as the highest priority in counterterror cooperation.”

“This is an issue we want resolved as quickly as possible,” he added.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the issue of access to Headley last week when he met with President Obama in Washington during the nuclear security summit.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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