At G20, Obama Does Not Forget His Diplomatic Priorities

Calm in the face of Franco-German pressure, the American president has made made an appointment with China and Russia, which he will visit this year.

From the perspective of London and American politics, the contrast between the turmoil caused in France by the French president’s statements and the United States' preoccupation with the construction of a complex diplomatic mechanism to solve the major crises of the world, from Afghanistan to Iran, through the North Korean crisis, is great. “There is so much to do on other issues,” said a member of the Obama team on Wednesday, interviewed by a British journalist on the importance that the United States attaches to the Franco-German controversy.

A cocktail event was held in the early evening at Buckingham Palace with all of the leaders of the G20, to initiate discussion on the global crisis and potential solutions. In the afternoon, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint press conference, after expressing strong dissatisfaction with the preparation of the summit and their desire to make the regulation of financial markets a top priority.

But Barack Obama, calm under the pressure, stated yesterday the differences between Europeans and American had been “greatly exaggerated,” emphasizing the “huge consensus” on the need for revival and regulation that prevails. “We have a responsibility to coordinate our actions and focus on common ground,” said Obama, calling for world unity during the storm.

A New Era between Moscow and Washington

Rather, the first meeting between the American president and his Russian counterpart, two men in their forties eager to seize the opportunity to establish themselves on the world scene, was the focal point of their respective agendas during a first busy day in London.

Barack Obama successively met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the head of the British opposition David Cameron, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and Chinese president Hu Jintao, before taking tea with the Queen of England, which is a privilege. At the end of his meetings, the president of the United States announced that he will travel to China and Russia this year.

Will Russians and Americans turn the page and revolutionize the future, like Bush senior and Mikhail Gorbachev once did? Are we at the beginning of a period of genuine openness between America and Russia, even while the Russian internal situation is deteriorating, as shown yesterday by the aggression of a human rights militant, Lev Ponomariov?

Believing that "the era when our countries were enemies is far behind," Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev began on Wednesday the renovation of the Russian-American relationship, announcing the launch of negotiations on an ambitious reduction of their nuclear arsenals.

On this issue, the American administration believes that "an unexpected breakthrough," has been made, as stated on Wednesday by presidential advisers, who are relying on the joint development of a disarmament agreement to replace the START Treaty by the end of the year. They welcomed "a frank and straightforward exchange of views," which “revealed many points of agreement on the definition of common threats.” The President wanted to revive this relationship, "vital to U.S. interests, particularly in the key area of nuclear non-proliferation," said one of them.

No Commitments with Iran

However, he acknowledged that "real disagreements" were noticed on the question of Georgia and the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as missile defense. Both men have agreed to increase the pressure on the Iranian nuclear program, but Moscow has made no clear commitment on this issue, said the White House. President Obama addressed the issue of human rights, including the attack on the opponent Ponomariov, allowing "a frank and useful exchange on the subject, said the advisers. The fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose trial has resumed, was not mentioned.

"After this meeting, I look at the future of our relationship with optimism," said President Medvedev, very relaxed. "We have identified areas of common ground of great promise," confirmed a smiling Barack Obama, impatient "to visit" Russia.