WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – June 22, 2021) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours Europe to participate in the Libya conference, attend G-20 and coalition meetings to fight the terrorist group Islamic State (banned in Russia), join a multilateral discussion on Syria and hold a plethora of bilateral commitments.
In Germany, the first leg of the trip, Blinken will attend the second Berlin conference on Libya. The forum is seen as a major opportunity to strengthen international support for the ongoing reconciliation process, to push for the withdrawal of foreign troops and to give additional impetus to preparations for the national elections in December.
US diplomats said the conference could also address concerns arising from “destabilizing actions” by rebel groups in neighboring Chad allegedly backed by private Russian entrepreneurs.
While in Berlin, Blinken is expected to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. US diplomats say he will not miss an opportunity to voice US opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to export gas from Russia to Europe. Another issue highlighted on the agenda of Blinken’s meeting with Maas is the fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
In Paris on June 25, Blinken will meet French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. He will also discuss international tax initiatives with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, the State Department said.
In Rome, Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will co-chair a meeting of the World Coalition to Defeat ISIS. On the sidelines of the meeting, Blinken will participate in a Syrian ministerial meeting to discuss the crisis in the country and stress the importance of responding to humanitarian needs.
He will also have bilateral meetings with President Sergio Mattarella and Di Maio, as well as a visit to Vatican City for talks with senior officials of the Holy See.
In the Italian cities of Bari and Matera Blinken will join the meeting of foreign ministers of the G20. According to the State Department, he will strengthen the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, discuss continued cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against the climate crisis and reconstruction with the global partners, with a focus on Africa.
As a preview of the trip, US officials could not immediately say whether Blinken was planning bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Russia and China, who will also be present at the G-20 in Italy.