US President Clinton Begins Week-Long Trip to Europe and
US President Bill Clinton has launched a week-long trip to
Europe and Russia. He arrived in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Tuesday, May
30. Portugal is the present holder of the rotating European Presidency, held
for a six-month term. Clinton will also visit Russia, Germany and the Ukraine.
Tuesdays agenda focused on the bilateral ties between
Portugal and the US, and Clinton met the Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and
Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, ahead of the summit on Wednesday between
President Clinton and the European Union leadership. The bilateral relationship
between Portugal and the US is codified in the 1995 "Agreement on
Co-operation and Defence", which provides for access to Lajes Air Base in
the Azores. US foreign direct investment in Portugal, according to the White
House, was $224 million in 1998, nearly a quarter of all such investment.
This will be Clintons 14th and last scheduled US-EU
summit, and during it he will meet the European Commission President Romano
Prodi. The US-EU trade disputes are expected to be high on the agenda. The EU,
for example, opposes the US programme of tax breaks for hundreds of billions of
dollars of exports. The talks are also expected to focus on maintaining
stability in south-east Europe. Other items on the agenda are said to be the
"international fight against terrorism in cyberspace, and on new efforts
to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids".
It was also announced that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
would fly to Berlin on Thursday to meet Bill Clinton and discuss the latest
developments in the Middle East. A statement issued by Ehud Baraks office
in Jerusalem said: "The two men will discuss the Middle East peace process
in general and implications of the withdrawal from Lebanon and ways to advance
the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in particular."
In his welcoming speech to President Clinton, Portuguese
President Sampaio said, "Globalisation requires the international
community to take responsibility for the future of our planet. The United
States of America has a decisive role in this process." He went on to say
that the US and Europe, "in which we are integrated, have the same values
and share a great number of interests". He said, "We have a common
interest in guaranteeing peace and security in Europe and in the world,
ensuring the prosperity of our economies and the defence of our values."
After leaving Portugal, President Clinton is scheduled to
fly to Germany, to give a foreign policy speech in Aachen on Europes
future and receive the International Charlemagne Prize, which, it is reported,
is being given for "contributing to world peace and European unity".
On Friday and Saturday, President Clinton will attend a conference in Berlin on
"The Third Way", convened by the German Prime Minister Schröder.
The conference will also be attended by leaders from Argentina, Brazil,
Britain, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South
Africa, Sweden and Portugal.
Clinton then will fly to Moscow for his first full meeting
with the newly-installed Russian President Vladimir Putin. The talks between
the two presidents are expected to focus on arms control issues, specifically
the US plans to further develop its "anti-missile defence shield",
directed against the alleged danger of attack from so-called "rogue
states", which would involve renegotiating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
(ABM) Treaty. Russia is opposed both to the system and to amending the Treaty.
The Republican president candidate George W. Bush has said he will scrap the
ABM treaty altogether if Russia does not agree to change it.
On Monday, June 5, Bill Clinton will address the Russian
Duma, the lower house of parliament, and visit former president Yeltsin. He
will then fly to the Ukrainian capital Kiev for a meeting with President Leonid
Kuchma, to urge the Ukraine to push ahead with "economic reform" and
co-operate with the IMF requirements on economic management.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Commerce
Secretary William Daley and the White House national security adviser Samuel
Berger are accompanying President Clinton.