Cowen: Talks in Moscow, Paris and Washington
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., will have high level talks in Moscow, Paris and Washington over the next ten days. These talks, which will include bilateral issues, will also cover issues of common interest on the United Nations Security Council.
On Wednesday 21 February the Minister will have talks in Moscow with the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Igor Ivanov. These will be followed on Friday 23 February by discussions in Paris with Foreign Minister, Hubert Védrine.
On his arrival in Washington on Tuesday 27 February the Minister will have a meeting with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The following day he will have separate meetings with new U.S. Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, and the National Security Adviser, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. He will also have a meeting with the House International Relations Committee before returning to Ireland.
Over the course of the weekend the Government has sought information through its mission to the UN in New York about the circumstances in which US and British aircraft attacked Iraqi military installations on Friday evening. These actions have taken place at a time when efforts are being made to secure the return of a UN disarmament mission to Iraq and a possible review of sanctions. The Government regrets very much that the use of force was deemed necessary and is concerned that every step be taken to avoid its further use.
The Minister will outline in his meetings in Moscow, Paris and Washington the view of the Government that all issues outstanding in relation to the implementation of UN sanctions against Iraq need to be addressed. This includes the humanitarian aspects and the need for Iraq to comply with Security Council resolutions, especially those relating to Iraq's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Ireland wishes to see sanctions lifted at the earliest possible moment. However, to help bring this about, Iraq must demonstrate, with concrete evidence, its peaceful intentions, especially with regard to its neighbours. The Government will be addressing the issue of Iraq in discussions scheduled to take place in the Security Council tomorrow and the planned meeting between the UN Secretary General and the Iraqi Foreign Minister on Monday next should provide the opportunity to identify the steps to be taken by Iraq so that progress can be made. Areas in which progress is urgently needed include an examination of the problems caused by holds and delays in implementing the "oil for food" programme and also deployment of the UN disarmament mission.
The Minister will also be discussing the deteriorating situation in southern Serbia and the implications of this for international efforts to bring peace and stability to the region. This issue will also arise in the context of the EU General Affairs Council which the Minister will be attending next Monday, 26 February.
Other issues likely to be covered include the Middle East and developments in African conflicts, notably in Sierra Leone and Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Minister will also brief his colleagues on Ireland's chairmanship of the Angola Sanctions Committee. Top