Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarks on a tour of Europe to take part in the conference on Libya, attend meetings of the G-20 and coalition to fight the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia), join a multilateral discussion of Syria and hold a plethora of bilateral engagements.
In Germany, the first leg of the journey, Blinken will attend the Second Berlin Conference on Libya. The forum is viewed as a major opportunity to reinforce international support for the ongoing reconciliation process, push for the withdrawal of foreign troops and lend additional momentum for preparing national elections in December.
US diplomats say that the conference may also address concerns stemming from “destabilizing actions” of rebel groups in neighboring Chad allegedly backed by Russian private contractors.
While in Berlin, Blinken is expected to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. US diplomats say that he will not miss an opportunity to voice America’s opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas-exporting pipeline from Russia to Europe. Another issue highlighted on the agenda of Blinken’s meeting with Maas is combating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
In Paris on June 25, Blinken will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. He will also discuss international taxation initiatives with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, the State Department said.
In Rome, Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will co-chair a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat IS. On the margins of the meeting, Blinken will participate in a Syria Ministerial to discuss the crisis in the country and underscore the importance of meeting humanitarian needs.
He will also have bilateral meetings with President Sergio Mattarella and Di Maio, as well as visit Vatican City for talks with senior Holy See officials.
In Italian cities of Bari and Matera Blinken will join the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. According to the State Department, he will reinforce the US commitment to multilateralism, discuss continued cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, and building back better with global partners, with a focus on Africa.
Previewing the trip, US officials could not immediately say if Blinken plans bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Russia and China, who will also be present at the G-20 in Italy.