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Hillary received with open arms for dinner by the Europeans

(B2) The star of the “transatlantic” dinner – bringing together EU and NATO foreign ministers (*) – was undoubtedly Hillary Clinton. This one, dressed in white (the look is important, for the images), arrived a good half hour late. As a result, the planned bilateral with the Belgian minister was canceled. And dinner started straight away. “A very rich discussionconfided the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Karel De Gucht to a few journalists at the end of dinner. “Everyone was really impressed by the knowledge of all these files of the new American Secretary of State.” But above all, it was the change in tone between Europeans and Americans that struck. “We have nuances, obviously between us, explainable by our different historical pasts. But there is considerably greater convergence than six months ago. he explained. And summing up the general sentiment: “We really have a common analysis of what is happening in the Middle East. We feel a desire to get involved very quickly, from the start of the legislature, on the conflict in the Middle East. "

On Russia, the position of the new administration is more open. The Atlantic Council should thus reach a majority on Thursday – during its formal meeting – to resume discussions between NATO and Russia. without illusions”. But being aware of the need to have to do this ". There is a “willingness to work with Russia on the basis of common interests”. " It is obvious that we must engage with Russia. It is a global force to be reckoned with. But that doesn't mean you have to be naive or there will be no problem.(To compensate for this openness, NATO-Georgia and NATO-Ukraine commissions are scheduled for Thursday).

As for Afghanistan – Pakistan, who are "We have a shared idea of ​​the facets of the same problem". And to add a more personal feeling: “Putting Pakistan and Afghanistan on the same level is not possible. There is a big difference between Pakistan which is a nuclear force, has a larger, urban elite, while Afghanistan has remained medieval in its structures". But, during this dinner, he did not “there was no question of an exit strategy”, assures the Belgian minister. " It's very premature to talk about that. When we go into the field, the soldiers we meet tell us: “We are here for a generation”, that is perhaps a little exaggerated. But, at one stage of the conflict, that is not what we are discussing. We see how to move forward, and what strategy to achieve results. Discussion is not about designing an exit strategy.”

(*) NB: This informal dinner is a tradition of NATO Foreign Ministers meetings. The day before the official meeting, a dinner brings together at the Palais d'Egmont, generally the prestigious residence of Belgian diplomacy, all the ministers from both the EU and NATO (with the presence of the secretaries general of the EU and NATO, respectively Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and the European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner). A moment of exchange, generally welcome, to allow everyone to prepare for the next day's meeting.

NB: All states were represented at ministerial level on Wednesday evening... except four countries represented by their ambassador: Cyprus, Ireland (These two countries have a particular relationship with NATO), Iceland (the government does not count as Minister of Defense) … and France!. Apparently Bernard Kouchner is waiting for full reintegration of NATO -:)). Jokes aside, the French minister rarely tastes this kind of meal... Too bad!


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).