Clinton voices US confidence in European recovery

Reuters, Saturday 4 Feb 2012

The US secretary of state has reassured European nations that Washington will not turn its back on the financially troubled continent

Hillary Clinton says US will continue supporting Europe (Photo: Reuters)

The United States voiced confidence Saturday that Europe can solve its financial crisis, saying the two must work more closely to support their economic recoveries and to combat protectionist policies.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to reassure European nations that Washington will not turn away from the continent, despite the Obama administration's avowed "pivot" towards Asia.

On the sidelines of the Munich conference, Clinton is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later on Saturday. The two are expected to focus on seeking Russian support for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.

"As a tyrant in Damascus brutalises his own people, America and Europe stand shoulder to shoulder. We are united, alongside the Arab League, in demanding an end to the bloodshed and a democratic future for Syria.

"And we are hopeful that at 10am Eastern Standard Time in New York, the Security Council will express the will of the international community."

On Europe, Clinton said: "I have heard all the talk about where Europe fits into America's global outlook. And I have heard some of the doubts expressed. But the reality couldn't be clearer: Europe is, and remains, America's partner of first resort," she said.

"We remain confident that Europe has the will and the means not only to cut [its] debt and build the necessary firewalls, but also to create growth, and to restore liquidity and market confidence."

Without naming countries, Clinton appeared to direct some of her comments towards China and the competitive threat to Europe and the United States posed by state-supported companies, protectionism and copyright violations.

"Too often, American and European companies face unfair practices that tilt the playing field against us — favouritism for state-owned enterprises, barriers to trade emerging behind borders, restrictions on investment, rampant theft of intellectual property," she said.

"Together, America and Europe need to instill that all nations respect the rules of the road that guarantee fair competition," Clinton added.

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