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World Leaders Lay Out Tests for Obama

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 2, 2009

The Wall Street Journal


LONDON — In the closing weeks of his presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, warned that the world would soon test a young, relatively inexperienced president.

“Soon” has become “now.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote in a Tuesday Washington Post op-ed piece that frosty U.S. relations would warm only if Mr. Obama backed off a range of U.S. policies. The two men plan to meet Wednesday for the first time.

A person familiar with the matter said a communiqué to be issued afterward could cover a range of U.S.-Russia bilateral issues, including Iran, North Korea, missile defense and economic issues. The leaders could announce the resumption of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, people familiar with the planning say.

Around the same time, France warned that French President Nicolas Sarkozy could walk out of this week’s meeting of the Group of 20 nations if the London summit fails to embrace stringent enough regulations on international banking.

And in recent days, the Chinese government has raised concerns about U.S. government borrowing, even raising the idea of a global currency to replace the dollar as international finance’s default trading option. Mr. Obama will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday, too.

Mr. Obama arrived here Tuesday night eager to try his hand at statecraft after the opening months of his administration were dominated by domestic policy. World leaders appear just as eager to test a president with little international experience who’s arriving for his first major overseas trip.

[Barack and Michelle Obama] Associated Press

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk out together from Air Force One upon their arrival at Stansted Airport in Essex, England, on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama’s experience in Europe was a college visit to Germany to see his half-sister, a Senate trip in 2005 and last summer’s tour through Europe as part of his presidential campaign.

Obama aides describe a president animated in recent days by arcane corners of diplomacy, such as restarting strategic arms-control-reduction talks, rather than agreements on international banking regulations and tax-haven sanctions — likely the big takeaways from the G-20 summit. (Please see related article).

“This is a very difficult situation, because the U.S. is still the global leader, and problems aren’t going to be solved without the U.S. leading the efforts to solve them, but other countries are not in the mood to do what the United States says,” said James Goldgeier, senior fellow for trans-Atlantic relations at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Sarkozy government appeared to raise the prospects of confrontation at the G-20. In an interview made available on the BBC’s Web site Tuesday, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Mr. Sarkozy would walk away from the G-20 meeting if no progress was made on global financial regulations, where France wants stricter standards in areas such hedge funds than the U.S. and U.K.

Mr. Sarkozy’s spokesman later appeared to backtrack somewhat, saying “there is no threat” to leave the summit.

Mr. Medvedev appears to seek the respect Russian leaders don’t believe they were accorded by the Bush administration, said an official familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking. Where there are issues that can be discussed, such as missile defense, Mr. Medvedev wants Mr. Obama to approach them with flexibility. Where differences cannot be resolved, such as on Russian domination of Georgia, the Kremlin wants such issues to not derail the broader dialogue.

A U.S. official called Mr. Medvedev’s public comments the Kremlin’s version of a “restart,” which is what the Obama administration has said it wants in its relations with Russia.

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  1. kaengkrachan said, on April 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm


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