The U.S. Air Force Boeing 757 that carries Secretaries of State on their travels has just taxied down the runway, and we are officially on our way to Zurich, London, Dublin, Belfast, Moscow and Kazan.
The Secretary’s first stop will be Zurich, where she will attend the signing of two protocols between the governments of Turkey and Armenia. These signings are a historic step for both Turkey and Armenia towards normalization of their relations. The Secretary has been closely engaged with the parties to move this along, and we will remain prepared to work closely with both governments in support of this process.
Secretary Clinton will then travel to London, where she will discuss a range of bilateral and transatlantic issues, including Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with senior U.K. officials. From London, she will travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland for the first time as Secretary of State.
During her visit to Dublin, she will meet with senior Irish leaders and reaffirm our strong commitment to and ties with Ireland. In Belfast, the Secretary will highlight our continuing commitment to political progress and economic development in Northern Ireland. The Secretary recently named a new Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, and this reinforces U.S. commitment, along with our international partners, to ensure Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.
The Secretary will then travel to Moscow, where she’ll hold a series of meetings with Russian officials, including President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov. They’ll review progress and provide further guidance to our negotiators on a successor agreement to START. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov are the coordinators of a Bilateral Presidential Commission, established last July in Moscow. Together, they will review the progress of the commission’s various working groups.
These consultations are an integral part of our renewed partnership with Russia, one that we believe is already yielding results, from progress on a successor agreement to START to Russia’s agreement to allow the United States to transport military personnel and equipment across Russia in support of NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.
In my previous job, I served as Director of Russian Affairs here at the State Department, so I’m very much looking forward to returning to Russia with the Secretary. I’ve been to Moscow many times, but to really understand a country, one has to travel outside its capital city. I think this is particularly true of such a large country as Russia, if one wants to understand its rich vibrancy and diversity.
So, finally, the Secretary will travel to Kazan, a historic city and the capital of Tatarstan. I’ve never been to Kazan, but I know that it will show that the Russian Federation is a country comprised of many constituent parts. Many different ethnic and faith groups are represented in Kazan. The Secretary will hold discussion with local officials to learn more about Kazan’s experience in fostering tolerance and interfaith dialogue. She will solicit advice from religious leaders, young Muslims, participants in U.S. exchange programs, and civil society representatives on how to apply the lessons from their experience in other societies.
We’ll keep you posted on the Secretary’s travels here on DipNote, as well as on state.gov and Twitter. You can also follow her trip on our interactive travel map, featuring the Secretary’s latest video, photos and remarks. As you follow along, text the Secretary your questions about her travel. We look forward to hearing from you.
Read the next Travel Diary entry.