Minister Cowen to lead EU talks in Washington
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., will lead an EU delegation to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington on Monday 1 March.
The Minister will be accompanied by the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten.
Their discussions will cover a wide range of foreign policy issues, including EU-US relations, the Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, Iran, Cyprus and the preparations for the EU follow-up to NATO’s Stabilisation Force in Bosnia, SFOR (in which Irish troops have served since 1997).
On the Middle East Peace Process, Minister Cowen will brief Secretary Powell on his recent contacts with politicians from the region, including today’s meeting with Foreign Minister Shalom of Israel. Minister Cowen will seek US encouragement and support for an early meeting of the two Prime Ministers and for the EU policy of seeking idea of small, concrete and visible steps, in accordance with the Roadmap, to help restore confidence between the two sides.
“The United States, a member of the Quartet with the EU, is a hugely important partner in efforts to achieve a just and sustainable peace in the Middle-East. It is important that we work in the closest unison towards that shared goal. While, in the end, movement must come from the Israelis and the Palestinians, working together we can help provide a framework and a context where that movement can take place”, said Minister Cowen in advance of the trip.
The meeting will also discuss preparations for the EU-US Summit which is scheduled to take place in Ireland on 25 and 26 June.
Cowen said “The Taoiseach and I have repeatedly made clear that we would like to use Ireland’s EU Presidency to further strengthen relations between the EU and the US. The June Summit will mark the culmination of our efforts to do that, building on ongoing contacts between the two sides, such as Monday’s meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell”.
The EU delegation will also meet with the US National Security Adviser, Ms. Condoleeza Rice.
On Tuesday 2nd March, Minister Cowen will meet with political leaders from both sides, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, and the Democratic Leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, as well as a number of senior Senators including Edward Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Susan Collins and Chris Dodd. Issues for discussion will include the longstanding bipartisan support in the US for the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the situation and status of Irish immigrants in the US.
“This is a timely opportunity to brief our many friends in Congress, including Senators Kennedy, Collins, Dodd and Leahy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Walsh and the Friends of Ireland and Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs on recent political developments.
We will, of course, express appreciation for the ongoing commitment of President Bush and the US Administration and update the President’s Special Envoy on Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, whom I met last month in Dublin on the current situation.”