I write on my way back from a two-day visit to Washington DC, my first since the inauguration of the new US Administration. This was first of all an opportunity to open a first direct communication channel, after our conversations on the phone, and to present Europe’s priorities. But also, and foremost, the occasion to define the fields where our approach and our interests coincide: the main international crises, starting with Syria and Ukraine, the full implementation of the deal with Iran, the fight against terrorism. On other issues – from free trade to climate change and multilateralism –some disagreements may arise. Our approach, on the European Union’s side, will be pragmatic, based on our values and on our interests, in a spirit of friendship but following our own priorities, which are clear and will not change.
All my meetings were very positive. All my interlocutors – at the White House as well as in the State Department and in Congress – showed great respect for the European Union and interest to cooperate with us. Together with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson we discussed – among other things – our Transatlantic relations, the fight against terrorism, the crises in Syria and Ukraine, and the European Union’s plans to strengthen our defence.
I also discussed the main foreign policy files, starting with the deal with Iran, in the White House – with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the President’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner – and in my many meetings at the Congress, with congressmen from both parties. I met with Senators Jack Reed, Chris Murphy, Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsay Graham, and with the Chairs of the Senate Committees for Homeland Security, Ron Johnson, for Foreign Relations, Bob Corker, and for the Armed Forces, John McCain.
After the meetings, I discussed the relations between the European Union and the new Administration both with the press (the video is here) and at the Atlantic Council with Fred Kempe (here is our conversation).
My contacts with the new Administration will continue in the coming days: I will meet with Secretary of Defence James Mattis in the margins of the NATO Defence ministerial meeting in Brussels; I’ll see Tillerson again at the G20 in Bonn; and on February 20th we will host Vice-President Mike Pence in Brussels.