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Clinton urges Europe to do more on economy

01 december 2012, 12:37
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Europe Thursday to resolve the eurocrisis and seek ways to promote growth and jobs as she praised America's "revitalized relationship" with the region, AFP reports.

On the eve of her 38th trip to Europe, Clinton told a Washington think-tank that the world was counting on European leaders to meet tough challenges ahead and offered assurances that the United States was not turning its back on old alliances.

"Our pivot to Asia is not a pivot away from Europe. On the contrary, we want Europe to engage more in Asia, along with us, to see the region not only as a market, but as a focus of common strategic engagement," Clinton said.

She outlined how in the past four years they had worked together on many key issues -- from the conflict in Afghanistan to ways to rein in Iran's suspect nuclear program, as well as the wars in Syria and Libya and climate change.

"But if the United States and Europe are not strong, stable, and prosperous in the long-term, our ability to tackle these and other issues will be put at risk," the top US diplomat warned.

Both Europe and the United States had to make some tough choices as they sought to get their economies in order.

"The eurozone is slipping back into recession as austerity policies take effect," she told the Brookings Institution.

"So it's vital to the entire global economy that European leaders move toward policies that promote credible and sustainable growth and create jobs."

But she acknowledged that "this is fundamentally a European problem that requires European solutions. America can't and shouldn't try to dictate any answer or approach."

Next week, Clinton will travel to Prague "to discuss our efforts to promote Czech energy independence and to advance human rights and democracy," to Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting, and Dublin for talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

She will also visit Belfast "to reiterate America's commitment to a peaceful, prosperous Northern Ireland" on what could be one of her last visits to the continent before she steps down early next year.

But the top US diplomat stressed that America also had to get its house in order to maintain its position in the world and ensure security.

"So many of the things we do around the world depend on our economic strength. From providing defense to investing in emerging markets, to aiding developing, to responding to crises," Clinton said.

"And there may be no greater threat to our security and our transatlantic partnership than a weak economic future on one or both sides of the Atlantic.

"If we are serious about strengthening our economic ties, we each need to build stronger foundations at home.

"For the United States this means making tough political choices... it means addressing our domestic fiscal challenges."

Often visits to other parts of the world got more attention than her trips to Europe, Clinton said, but her packed schedule next week "demonstrates the commitment we've brought to our transatlantic partnership."

Four years ago, when President Barack Obama came into office taking over from his predecessor George W. Bush, "this relationship was frayed. There were skeptics and doubters on both sides of the Atlantic," she said.

And while the relationship was now on a new footing, "we also need to remain focused on areas where our partnership still has work to do," she said.

"Perhaps the most important question in the years ahead will be whether we invest as much energy into our economic relationship as we have put into our security relationship," she said.

Clinton recalled that the United States remained one of only a few WTO members not to have moved beyond most favored nation statues with the European Union, saying that in face of growing trade barriers the two sides needed a comprehensive agreement to aid trade on both sides of the Atlantic.

"If we work at it and if we get this right, an agreement that opens markets and liberalizes trade would shore up our global competitiveness for the next century, creating jobs and generating hundreds of billions of dollars for our economies," she said.

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